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Re: Pink fruitcakes

Posted by Bob on December 24, 2002

In Reply to: Pink fruitcakes posted by Anne on December 24, 2002

: I saw a film last week. It was about the making and using of atomic bombs in the Second World War. When many foreign scientists participated in the American project refused to use the atomic bombs against Japanese people to end the war after they had completed the device, the US Army general scolded them for not agreeing to use the device to force Japan to surrender unconditionally. He called those scientists "pink fruitcakes" in an angry tone of voice. Now that's the phrase I'm totally clueless about. Could anyone please enlighten me here? I'll be very much obliged.

There's a two-part explanation for this colorful turn of phrase. First, "pink" is likely, in this context, to imply feminine, un-manly, cowardly. "Pink" was used also to signify a Communist sympathizer (a little bit Red = pink) but in 1945, the other explanation seems more likely since the Russians were American allies. The Cold War didn't heat up until after the war, although it's possible the general was hinting at a kind of treason.

Then there's "fruitcake" which is a litte more straightforward. A fruitcake confection is full of nuts, and the common saying is/was "nuttier than a fruitcake." Nutty = crazy. So the phrase = unmanly, somewhat treasonous, crazy people.