Driving to Fort Worth, we remembered the lunch we had packed – my sister, Monica’s, yummy southwestern quiche. But after our hilarious visit to Woody’s Smokehouse we were stuffed! Couldn’t even think about that quiche!
“Well, we have have to stop in Corsicana even if we’re not hungry,” Patti insisted. “You have to see this little fruitcake bakery. It’s been there since 1896.” She described a quaint, old fashioned place, with nice ladies who give you samples of fruitcake – fruitcake that will forever change your opinion of that much maligned dessert.
“You will never think of fruitcake the same way,” Patti told us.
After some confusion we found Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, but it was not as my sister remembered it. Her face was a study in disappointment. I think she was ready to cry. The cute old fashioned bakery had expanded to become a bright, pretty restaurant with chic little tables, and gleaming shelves with a variety of baked goods. There was even a young man behind the counter making specialty coffees and frappes. Frappes for goodness sake!
“This is just like any other fancy new restaurant,” Patti mourned. “It’s changed.”
Sadly we walked out the door, and headed toward the car.
“Hey, wait a minute! Where you all goin’?” We stopped and looked back. We were being pursued by a young man with a wide grin, his hands full of tissue-wrapped cookies. “You can’t leave without tasting some of my cookies!”
We stood there a little uncomfortably, and explained that we had stopped to see the quaint little bakery store Patti had visited a few years ago. And we had wanted to try a sample of fruitcake. But it was all new and modern…
“I can give you samples,” he insisted, holding out his hands.
“Well, it’s not that we just wanted samples,” I awkwardly tried to explain. “My sister was just telling us about this wonderful old fashioned bakery, and it’s all changed since the last time she was here…”
“Well yeah, it’s changed, but it’s better. I’m the manager here. We still got good fruitcake. You all come back in and I’ll fix you right up!”
Holding our cookies and laughing, we followed George back into the store. “Here we go again,” Patti whispered. It seemed that we were eating our way across the state of Texas.
George introduced us to David, the frappe-maker, (who gave us a sample) and then he disappeared. He returned a moment later carrying three plates, each with samples of several kinds of fruitcake. He explained what each of them was, how it was made, and what makes it different from other fruitcakes. Barbara, one of the employees stood nearby cracking up and shaking her head, “George will fix you right up. We can give you a sample of anything you want. Everybody loves our fruitcake.”
And we did. The only problem was keeping track of which was which; and which we would want to buy.
George asked us if we’d like a tour of the bakery part of the operation, and of course we were thrilled. He led us into the large room with long conveyer belts. He explained that workers stand there decorating the fruitcakes. Every fruitcake has to be just so – with exactly the right number of perfectly placed cherries or pecans etc. I wish we could have seen the lines in full production! (I couldn’t help thinking about Lucy and Ethel…)
Thousands of fruitcakes that are shipped to more than 200 countries around the world.
In the restaurant we had seen an enlarged picture of a postcard they received in 1979 from a customer in Norway. It was addressed to “Fruitcake Texas”. Apparently, even with that minimal address, the card had reached Collin Street Bakery and the Norwegian lady was able to get the fruitcake she wanted for her grandmother in Eidsvoll.
George told us that Queen Elizabeth II is one of their best customers. She purchases one thousand of their deluxe fruitcakes every Christmas.
Princess Grace of Monaco was a good customer, and now her daughter, Caroline is carrying on the tradition.
Collin Street Bakery also provides fruitcake for Madison Square Gardens, the Hilton Hotel Chain, and many others.
With so many thousands of fruitcakes flying across the country and around the world they need to have a big oven, and George was proud to point it out to us – an oven that can bake over 4,000 fruitcakes at a time.
It made my head spin! “I think I need a cup of coffee,” I told John and Patti as we followed George back to the main part of the store. “Does anyone feel like a cup of coffee – or even a frappe?”
We said goodbye to George and his friendly staff, and thanked them for their hospitality. We promised to look them up on Facebook, and to tell all of our friends that you haven’t really tasted fruitcake until you have had one from Collin Street Bakery.