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Dec 6, 2022

What’s In That Special Black Cake and Rum Popo?

As December rolls around, housewives start collecting their ingredients for that traditional black or white fruitcake for Christmas and that prized bottle of rum popo. Traditional for many people means buying those fruits, nuts and caramel weeks before Christmas, like around this time, so they can soak the fruits in rum for that extra kick. And usually first-timers try their hand at rum popo from now, as well, to perfect their skill for closer to Christmas Eve when they make a few bottles to share with family and friends. If this is your first Christmas making black fruit cake and rum popo, Marion Ali did the leg work for you and has the main ingredients in the following report.


Beulah Sikaffy

Beulah Sikaffy, Co-Owner, Sikaffy Store

“Traditionally Christmastime is preparing your fruits to make your black fruit cake. So you soak your fruits, some people soak it, some people boil it, steam it. I usually just soak it, yes I soak my fruits in rum.”


Marion Ali, Reporting

Beulah Sikaffy has her choice of preparing the fruits for her black cake, but she is also the co-owner of Sikaffy on Albert Street, which has all the fruits, nuts and caramel colouring for your Christmas cakes. Like the traditional black and white cakes that we are accustomed to, Sikaffy’s provides the key ingredients for these cakes.


Beulah Sikaffy

“These are all imported – mixed fruits, red cherries, green cherries, pitted prunes, prunes with seed, dates with seed. You can get dates without the seed but we only have it with seed. You have raisins, then you have the pecans, and almonds. And we import our colouring in fifty-five-gallon drums. We get the labels made at Angelus Press, we buy the bottles and we bottle it.”


Sikaffy says there is a clear distinction between the caramel colouring they sell and the one made of burnt sugar.


Beulah Sikaffy

“The one that people use – the brown sugar – sometimes if they don’t do it good it’s bitter, and most of the time it’s bitter. Now our colouring is imported from the States. It’s a black caramel colouring, it’s not bitter and it lasts for more than two years. It makes the cake black and not bitter.”


The family store, which is a landmark in downtown Belize City, has been importing fruits for Christmas cakes for several decades – when some of our parents were much younger.


Beulah Sikaffy

“I have been here for about forty-five years, and before I came they use to import these from the states, so it’s been that long that we’ve been selling this here. That’s the City Council license from 1932, so the shop has been open from just about that time.”


Smoked hams that needed no refrigeration were also a feature at Sikaffy’s at Christmastime, but times have changed that part of their business.


Beulah Sikaffy

“When the government started with the local hams we had tried before to continue bringing in the hams, but we have to order the hams from like August, September and they didn’t want to give us the permit to do it. You have to wait until they figure out how much the local market can produce before they gave us, so we just never bothered because we can’t order in November, December. The village people used to buy it a lot and you never had to keep it refrigerated.”


One thing that needs to be refrigerated, however, is rum popo, and Cojac’s Sumptuous Rumpopo is among the best on the market. Cojac Smith says he simply stumbled on his talent to blend the right flavours that became hits twelve years ago.


Cojac Smith

Cojac Smith, Makes Sumptuous Rum popo

“We’ve moved away from just the traditional rumpopo. We’ve also expanded our line to a full vegan, no dairy, no soy, no gluten, and it also has in Omega-three. We also included a pumpkin spice, a Ghirardelli white chocolate with hazel nuts. That was a really big seller about three years ago. Every year we try to make sure that we have a certain standard and quality every time.”

Smith has expanded his business to include other treats, like this rich chocolate milkshake.


Cojack Smith

“And now we’re starting off with the new flavour to the line which is the dark chocolate with peppermint.”


Dark chocolate and peppermint – not two flavours that I’m excited about, but when Smith offered me a blend of these two flavours, I was pleasantly surprised.


Marion Ali

“Wow! This is really good. It is really good.”


Marion Ali for News Five.


Cojack’s Sumptuous Rumpopo is available in different sizes and price ranges and Cojack Smith can be reached at 632 2622.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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