December 17th, 2002

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Collin Street Bakery

Corsicana is a small Texas town about 50 miles from Dallas. It's a nice place, with some older homes, some newer homes, some older people and some newer people. It has but one claim to world-wide fame. This famous institution is the Collin Street Bakery. The Collin Street Bakery is a very competent cookies and cakes type of bakery, opening in 1896, and using German recipes brought straight from Wiesbaden. Its fame, though, resides in its world-wide shipment of its Original Deluxe Fruitcake to loving customers throughout the world. The bakery got into mail order when the owner befriended Mr. Ringling, of Ringling Circus fame. One year, many members of the circus wanted fruitcakes sent to their families, all over Europe. Thus, a tradition of holiday fruitcake supply was born.

I believe that the fruitcake is in the finest winter holiday tradition. I love that thousands upon thousands of homes acquire a fruitcake for the holiday, although most folks don't particularly care for the taste of fruitcake. I don't know why it seems cool to me that as a matter of tradition, people buy a fruitcake, when they enjoy, say, a Snickers bar better. But once in a while, it seems to me to be worthwhile to key into a tradition. I am a big fan of taking disparate traditions like pieces of cast-off material, and then quilting them together. So I am intrigued that this fruitcake tradition is so strong.

I find myself in a curious position, though. I would send a fruitcake as a gift myself, without hesitation or remorse (although, in point of fact, I rarely, if ever, do). But when I myself go to the Collin Street Bakery, I tend to get the cookies with the M & M candies where the chocolate chips are supposed to be located.

After all, it's one thing to love Christmas traditions, but a good cookie is another thing altogether.