Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jokes Don't Bother Top Fruitcake Maker

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jokes Don't Bother Top Fruitcake Maker

Article excerpt

Oh, yes, people do laugh. They say mean and hurtful things about fruitcake.

Every Christmas, workers at Collin Street Bakery endure the same tired jokes. The most offensive suggests there's a single fruitcake in the world, passed from person to person, never opened, never desired.

But here, everyone knows better. At this bakery in this town of 23,000, there is pride in fruitcake. Four million pounds are produced each season, shipped to 50 states and 195 countries, endorsed by princesses and politicians and movie stars.

The primary fruitcake, the "Original Deluxe," has been served at the Mandarin Hotel in Singapore and the Hotel Villa Magna in Madrid. It has been sought out by actress-dancer Ginger Rogers and journalist John Cameron Swayze. In the bakery lobby is an autographed photo endorsement by Dom DeLuise, comic actor and noted dessert lover.

At Collin Street Bakery, the largest and oldest fruitcake bakery in the country, operating since 1896, there's a tendency to dismiss critics who make unflattering generalities about the product. Fruitcake is no joke here but rather, as the bakery's ads say, "One of the most distinguished gifts in the world."

"I don't associate with people who say bad things about fruitcake," said vice president John Crawford, who has been with the company for 30 years.

Collin Street Bakery has no traveling salespeople. The Original Deluxe is not available in stores. Yet the cake's reputation is so entrenched that repeat customers make up more than 80 percent of holiday business, and orders often are placed in the most elementary way. Crawford has a huge stack of letters mailed to "Fruitcake, Texas."

Located 50 miles south of Dallas, the bakery is a merger of German baking skills with Texas pecans and showmanship. It was founded by August Weidmann, an immigrant baker from Wiesbaden, and W. …

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