"It began one Easter in the late 60s," Pea House co-owner Astrid Addleson recalled. "We were visiting Emmeline's family and she showed us a reenactment of the Passion made from little candy Romans and suffering marzipan Jews. What impressed me was her attention to detail. The spears were made of thin butterscotch brittle and ground pecans. The persecuted Hebrews were glued to handcrafted gummi crosses. You could even see the blood running down their sides, which was made from red licorice. And best of all, they tasted wonderful!"
From that day forward, a deal was struck and local history made. Kuchenkoch's pastries and assorted goodies became standard fare at the Pea House. But the most cherished culinary treat, according to Kuchenkoch's fans, remains the Christmas fruitcake she prepares only once a year.
Leo Kuchenkoch, Emmeline's youngest son, said: "Nothing rivals it. For most people, fruitcake is a torment forged by Satan on the anvils of hell, studded with turd-like candied fruits, stale nuts and a sticky brown dough that looks like it came out of a demon's butthole. It's a meal you'd serve your worst enemy. Check the Bible if you're not sure who that is. But not Mom's. Hers is amazing. She sends one to family members every year; and during Christmas week, a few lucky Pea House customers get to taste it. People from all over Southern California travel to San Narciso for a chance to try Mom's 'World Famous Fruitcake.' Well, not anymore. Because it's all a big sham."
Unhappy Holidays: Deceit and Treachery in the Kitchen
Kuchenkoch's four children say she's been referring to her Christmas cake as 'world famous' since they could remember. But a background investigation of candidate F. Chester Greene, Kuchenkoch's son-in-law, turned up evidence of deceit and misinformation.
Niles Hertford, a strategist with the Romney campaign, explained that Kuchenkoch is an unfortunate victim of guilt by association. He said: "We never would have known Emmeline Kuchenkoch existed if she hadn't been related to F. Chester Greene. But that's precisely the problem. Nobody knows who she is outside of that weird California suburb. She's been lying to her friends, to her family and to the patrons of the restaurant that sells her baked goods. Greene denies knowledge of the scam, which we're now calling 'Dessert Storm,' but he's a duplicitous man. This whole 'world famous' mess puts his character -- and his candidacy -- in question."
In a brief conference with reporters, Kuchenkoch came clean: "I never thought telling people my fruitcake was world famous would cause so much harm. I need to set the record straight. Very few people outside of San Narciso County know about my fruitcakes. I send some to San Diego. Outside the state, a couple make their ways to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. The rest end up in Iowa: Grimes, Polk and Des Moines. They have never traveled abroad, and nobody else in the world is aware of their existence. I'm so sorry to all those I've deceived. I'm a pitiless liar, and I apologize for destroying your faith in me, in my son-in-law's presidential campaign and probably in God."
Representatives from Greene's campaign lashed out at Romney's offices, alleging unfair and unethical practices. They also accused Mitt Romney's aunt of manipulating her neighbors into believing she made holiday casseroles "from scratch."
Greene remarked: "I suppose if you consider frozen green beans, canned mushroom soup and packaged fried onion strings 'scratch,' then sure. Our sources have also obtained intelligence suggesting that her 'secret family recipe' for cranberry sauce is Ocean Spray. The kind you buy at any grocery store."
But for Emmeline Kuchenkoch, the holidays will never be the same. “How do you look in the mirror and not see a stranger?” she lamented, close to tears. “My daughter refuses to come home from college. She said she didn't have a mother any longer, just some fraud who lives in her house and sleeps with her father on special occasions. My boys have decided to spend Christmas with friends who, quote, don't pretend to be people they're not."
Emmeline's husband is still reeling from the shock of the morning’s events.
“I found Emmeline crying in the bathroom around seven o’clock,” Mr. Kuchenkoch told reporters. “She was trying to, I think she was trying to cut her wrists with a razor. But it was the plastic Lady Bic she uses to shave her legs, so she just ended up with some red marks -- she’s very pale. Emmeline wouldn’t answer me when I said her name. She kept staring at her reflection and bawling, ‘Who are you? Why have you stolen my life?’”
Political analysts say the revelations of Dessert Storm will have little impact on public opinion toward candidate Greene, although they will haunt his mother-in-law for the rest of her life.
(c) 2011. See disclaimers.