As if the pre-digested appearance weren’t enough (and really, that’s plenty enough), there’s a new reason to hate Christmas fruitcakes — they’re causing traffic jams on the Loop 101 freeway.
Cold Stone Creamery executives launched an anti-fruitcake campaign at their headquarters building east of the freeway near the Via de Ventura exit on Monday.
Traffic has slowed to a crawl for miles in each direction every rush hour since then, as motorists rubberneck to ponder the protest.
Frankly, getting drivers to slow down for any reason is a remarkable achievement.
Commuters regularly drive 80 mph and occasionally hit 120 mph on that stretch of freeway, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Scottsdale officials plan to install photo speedenforcement equipment on the freeway next month.
But two collisions have occurred on the freeway near the Cold Stone headquarters since the company hung 10 anti-fruitcake banners on the two-story building.
The signs are part of the company’s "Fruitcake Freedom" promotion, which encourages people to bring unwanted fruitcakes to Cold Stone outlets in exchange for $5 discount coupons on ice cream cakes.
"We can say we definitely caught the attention of commuters passing by our building," said company spokeswoman Stephanie Ribodal.
No doubt about that.
The place looks like it’s hosting a political convention.
Or maybe a prison riot.
Cold Stone spent more than $5,000 for 10 banners, Ribodal said. Some show a fruitcake stamped with the international "no" symbol, while others proclaim "Shame On Fruitcake!" and "Down With Fruitcake!"
A blimp floating over the building states, "Declare Your Fruitcake Freedom!" A collection of small signs on the fence outside the building had similar slogans.
DPS Lt. Michael Lockhart said highway patrol officers have encountered a sudden wave of problems near the newly redecorated building.
"They have told me that it does cause slowing and there have been some collisions related to maybe people gawking at that, but they can’t say for certain that that’s it," he said.
Maybe, but that sort of coincidence hits with the deadening thud of fruitcake on china.
"We’ve gotten a couple of calls," Ribodal said. "Some have called to laugh. Others have said, ‘Hey, I’m concerned. My commute time has increased.’ "
The promotion was intended to run through the end of the month, but it’s coming down early, Ribodal said.
So the list of reasons to avoid fruitcake grows: The appearance, the smell, the stickiness, the taste, the regifting, the traffic jams . . .