If you have fruitcake this holiday season there’s a good chance it will come from Claxton, Georgia. The tiny town’s water tower proclaims it the “Fruitcake Capital of the World” – and across the street is the Claxton Bakery.
“We take a lot of pride in that nickname,” said Dale Parker, whose father bought this bakery from its founder in 1945.
Dale Parker shows photographs of the original Claxton Bakery and a portrait of his father, Albert Parker, who bought the bakery from its founder. (Emily Jones/Marketplace)
The Claxton bakery churns out close to 90,000 one-pound fruitcakes a day during the pre-holiday rush. That’s about four million every year. And it sells. Glenn Thomas is with Civitan International, which raises money for charities by stocking grocery stores with Claxton fruitcake.
“Trust me,” Thomas said, “if some of the supermarkets do not have it in their stores by Thanksgiving, they will get questioned about it.”
Some fruitcake lovers bypass the store altogether and go straight to the source. Parker said about 10 percent of Claxton Bakery’s business comes from online and phone sales.
“They go everywhere,” Parker said, sorting through a growing stack of boxes waiting to ship. “Ohio, here’s one going to New York.”
Behind the storefront display of Claxton fruitcake, employees get individual orders ready for mailing. (Emily Jones/Marketplace)
Claxton’s internet traffic goes up each year, which analysts say is true across the board in mail-order food. Brian Todd of the Food Institute said there’s been a surge in sales in the last few years: “a pretty substantial increase of about 30 percent, which far outpaces growth in many other food areas.”
Though Parker admits his customers are aging, he’s not worried about the business.
“Do younger people like fruitcake as much older people? No, probably not,” he said. “But we’re also doing chocolate covered fruitcake pieces, so that’s a way to market it to the younger population.”
But cover it in chocolate, any way you slice it, it’s still fruitcake underneath.
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