Dining at the (Other) Top of the World: Hunger, Fruitcake, and the Race to Reach the South Pole

In contrast to the abundance of the Arctic, in Antarctica, "once you leave the coast, you're basically heading to the moon." Jason Anthony, who spent several summers on the seventh continent, told us that in this desert of ice and stone (where the largest terrestrial animal is a tiny wingless midge), food isn't just important—it's everything. This episode is packed full of stories of survival at Earth's southernmost points, from Heroic Era expedition chefs whipping up croissants on the ice, to desperate Dorito auctions when supplies run low today. Plus, listen in now for the scoop on how food fueled the race to the South Pole—and determined the ultimate winner and loser.

A man from the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition stands with a group of penguins. Explorers found that penguins were remarkably easy to approach—and hunt—because they have no natural land predators. (Image credit: National Archives of Australia)

Jason Anthony

Jason Anthony is the author of Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine. His current project is the weekly newsletter Field Guide to the Anthropocene.

A small plane drops off supplies for a few weeks at a remote field camp in Antarctica. (Image by Jason Anthony)

Lizzie Meek

Lizzie Meek is the program manager for artifacts at the Antarctic Heritage Trust, where she works to preserve some of the objects left behind by the Heroic Age explorers.

A fruitcake, made by British biscuit-makers Huntley and Palmers and found at Cape Adare. The Antarctic Heritage Trust believes that the cake arrived with Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition (1910 – 1913). Even after a century, it reportedly looked and smelled *almost* edible. (Photo credit: © Antarctic Heritage Trust, nzaht.org)

Tinned and bottled food in the galley of the 'Nimrod' hut, used by explorer Ernest Shackleton in his 1907–1909 expedition. (Photo credit: ©AHT/Stefanie White)


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