Collin Street: 125 Years in the Baking

Collin Street: 125 Years in the Baking
Posted in: Bakery, Community

125 Years As A Family Owned & Operated Texas-Based Business

Welcome to Collin Street --the oldest, U.S.-based, mail-order fruitcake company and the home of our world-famous DeLuxe® Fruitcake. Made for over 125 years from our super-secret proprietary blend of pecans, pineapples, and cherries, our DeLuxe® has become synonymous with quality.

But, here’s the thing. While our fruitcake has always been delicious, it’s not always been world-famous. Just like all things, our beginnings were rather humble. We worked our way to stardom! So, in honor of our anniversary year, we want to take you on a journey. A journey that began a long time ago, deep in the heart of Texas...

Once Upon a Time, A Long, Long Time Ago...

1896

German baker August “Gus” Weidmann founds Collin Street Bakery.

FUN FACT: The original bakery was located on Collin Street thus, the origin of our name!

1900

Gus Weidmann partners with local businessman and entrepreneur Thomas McElwee. Together, Gus and Tom had begun promoting Collin Street Bakery to the traveling tourist trade flooding Corsicana. The most popular item purchased? --Weidmann’s specialty, the DeLuxe® Fruitcake.

1906

Gus and Tom, having outgrown the original Collin Street Bakery location, purchase a second location. The second location was a two-story building with the bakery located on the first floor and a luxury hotel located on the second.

The 1940s

Stiff competition from regional bread factories encourages Gus to shift focus from producing bread to focusing on developing the mail-order fruitcake side of Collin Street. This decision coincides with the purchase of Collin Street Bakery from the original founding families to an investment group that included the McNutt family.

The 1950s

Under the guidance of the bakery’s new leadership, Collin Street’s sales of DeLuxe® Fruitcake skyrocket from 65,000 total pounds of fruitcake sold in the 1940s, to almost half a million in the 1950s.

1965

In 1965, Collin Street moves into its current facility located on 7th Avenue in downtown Corsicana. This location includes a large-scale production facility created to meet the high-volume demand placed on the business by the ever-increasing surge of orders.

FUN FACT: At the Bakery’s 7th Avenue grand opening, Will Rogers, Jr. presided as the Master of Ceremonies. This was an ode to his father, Will Rogers, Sr., a long-time customer of Collin Street.

1976

Collin Street Bakery partners with two other entities to build the Navarro Pecan Company, the world’s single-largest pecan shelling operation. The Navarro Pecan Company, located just a few short minutes down the street from our 7th Avenue location, provides Collin Street with all our pecan needs.

FUN FACT: Each of our DeLuxe® Fruitcakes is comprised of 27% pecans by volume.

1990

Collin Street purchases its first parcel of land in Costa Rica. This parcel is cultivated to grow pineapples for use in our fruitcakes.

FUN FACT: For a brief time, our bakery’s pineapple farm, totaling 3,000 acres, was the world’s largest organic growing operation.

The 2000s

In addition to our 7th Avenue location, Collin Street opens three new Café locations, each located off main commuter thoroughfares. These locations are still operational today and respectively located off I-45 in Corsicana, 1-20 in Lindale, and I-35 in Waco.

2014

The bakery, having pineapple production far exceeding its own needs, sells the majority of its organic pineapple farm to Dole Fruit.

FUN FACT: Collin Street maintains roughly one hundred acres on which pineapple, papaya, coffee, and cocoa are still grown.

Today

Collin Street celebrates its 125-year anniversary!

This year alone, our bakery saw tremendous growth including, expanded participation in this year's State Fair of Texas, a collaboration with Shiner Beer, and the successful launch of our Gluten-Free Fruitcake.

For a more detailed account of our bakery’s history, click here

Momentous occasions such as this, call for reflection. So, we took this unique opportunity to interview a handful of important bakery figures. Here’s what they had to say…

 

Reflections on the Past

Question: What do you think about our business growth and success?

Thomas McNutt, Executive Vice President: You know, when you're in a business day in and day out, sometimes you can lose perspective. But really, Collin Street Bakery is the ultimate comeback kid because we haven’t always had continuous growth... In the early 2000s, the business weathered a rocky path. A whole lot of other companies entered the direct mail business and culturally, people started stigmatizing our core product (fruitcake).

And of course, everybody knows about the horrible, awful theft that happened from somebody that the business loved and trusted. But, once the business recovered from the embezzlement, we were able to begin experimenting with different marketing and selling initiatives. Now, we're in our fourth consecutive year of really consistent growth. I think it’s a testimonial of the incredible leadership Bob McNutt has provided and his ability and willingness to adapt and innovate.

Hayden Crawford, Vice President of Public Relation and Customer Service: The mail-order part of the business... was an incredible home run success no one anticipated. We had this little hometown bakery selling bread and fruitcake... We got into the mail-order business and fruitcake was the only product we could really safely ship. So, we began to market it...and it just took off!... We went from selling a meager couple thousand dollars in sales in 1896 to over $20 million in annual sales in 2020!

 

Exciting Changes 

Question: During your time with Collin Street, was have been some of the more exciting changes you’ve witnessed?

Chirs Woolsey, Shipping Manager: Watching the wholesale efforts grow each year I would say has been one of the most exciting things. To see the year-over-year growth, with more stores ordering our cakes every year. Our mailout business is direct to the consumer and so that's usually one cake to one customer. But, when we start wholesaling, we can get our cakes in front of more customers!

 

Upcoming Challenges

Question: What do you think are some of our business’s biggest future challenges?

Deanna Cryer, Director of Retail Operations: Marketing to younger audiences is one of our bakery’s biggest challenges. Our audience is typically more mature. So, there's been a big push to market to a younger demographic to make fruitcake trendy again.

Luckily for us, we have a great marketing team that’s doing a terrific job at keeping fruitcake relevant.

 

Hopes for the Future 

Question: What are some of your hopes for the future of Collin Street Bakery?

Bob McNutt, CEO & President: I have lots of plans for our future...big and small. For example, I want to revamp our bakery tours. I hope to have a tour where anyone who comes here for a bakery tour gets a chance to decorate their own cake… But, that’s not all. I also see tremendous potential in our wholesale efforts. But our wholesale business, under my nephew Thomas McNutt, is doing very well and just has lots of room to keep growing.

Deanna Cryer, Director of Retail Operations: More collaborations! I really want to collaborate with Blue Bell Creameries, another great Texas-based brand. I’d love to create a fruitcake-flavored ice cream or even an ice cream based on our most popular cookie, our Cherry Ice Box Cookie.

Hayden Crawford, Vice President of Public Relation and Customer Service: In the past five, six years, I've seen a change in the attitude perceptions of the customer. Now they're looking at fruitcake and Collin Street Bakery as something intriguing, a throwback, a harkening back to the past, and something to be cherished and to enjoy. So, we've really turned the corner! I just really hope that continues.

Thank You to Our Community

Our bakery may be well over a century old, but we have no intention of slowing down. Since 1896, we’ve been making the best dang fruitcake anyone’s ever tasted and we plan on keeping up the tradition for an additional 125 years!

But we didn’t get here alone. Thank you to all our loyal customers and employees past and present, who over the years, have allowed us to be a part of your lives and traditions. And a special note of thanks goes out to our local community.

Thank you to the people of Corsicana who have been loyal and supportive for many years. Without the people of Corsicana, we wouldn't be here.” - Bob McNutt

Luckily for you, our DeLuxe® Fruitcake is just a few clicks away. Available in a variety of sizes, sliced and unsliced versions, and even bite-sized Petites, we are certain you’ll find something you like. 

SHOP OUR DELUXE® FRUITCAKE

October 12, 2021
Comments
Gregory T Treehuba
October 20, 2021 at 2:23 PM
There is no reason not to love your cakes! I have always and still despise ALL fruitcake, particularly the ones that rely too heavily on raisins and consist of cake so dry that it tastes like cardboard. Somewhere between 35 and 40 years ago a cousin in New York forced me to try your fruitcake and the angels sang and I was converted. Yours is the ONLY fruitcake that I will eat. Furthermore, it became my special gift for friends in England, Switzerland and The Bahamas and nuns who were family friends. Sadly only my friends in Switzerland are still alive and take your cake every Christmas with them to family in Spain who insist on it being shared with them. Thus your cake has become a go to in my life. Tell anyone who doesn’t like Christmas Cake to speak to me as your cake is unlike any other and the cake is just pecan deliciousness with fruit people enjoy!
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 25, 2021 at 6:16 PM
Thank you so much for sharing! We are so glad you were forced into our fruitcake and LOVED it! We appreciate you being a part of this journey with us.
Carolyn E Williamson
October 20, 2021 at 3:22 PM
excellent quality ingredients plus excellent and prompt employee service is always the best marketing any company can ever do...thank you through the years for both!! xo
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 25, 2021 at 6:06 PM
Thank you so much!!
Susan Skoch
October 20, 2021 at 3:40 PM
We had an elderly neighbor, Elta whittington, who my brothers and I worked for in our teens. It was a tradition to receive a Collin street bakery fruit cake every year at christmas as her gratuity for our work with her. She has long passed but I think of it every year and hope to start a tradition again. It's the only fruitcake we enjoy. Very tasty and disappears quickly. Elta used to buy one for herself when she lived in a nursing home and I woul cut her a slice for her every evening. She didn't always share this one cake lol. She loved it for herself. That's how good it is. I can taste it though and thinking of buying it for my family. My brothers and I are in our 40s now.
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 25, 2021 at 6:05 PM
Thank you for sharing this with us! It is definitely time to get a fruitcake.
Himanshu Dixit
October 21, 2021 at 3:37 AM
We are planning to order few cakes this year and would like to have complete price list for various cakes that you have showing freight cost separately for within US and Europe.
Reply
October 21, 2021 at 9:05 AM
I have been you faithful customer for a rather long period of time and it gives me great pleasure to convey to you that your fruitcake is highly appreciated in our family and amongst our friends.
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 25, 2021 at 5:58 PM
Thank you so much for the kind words.
Jean Ann Bybee
October 22, 2021 at 5:57 PM
I have had the privilege to photograph Collin Street Bakery products for several years. As a professional food photographer it has been such a wonderful opportunity to work with many of the principles of this incredible family owned company. I treasure them as clients and friends. Fruitcakes… cheesecakes… cookies.. bakery/cafe items… all so delicious and fun to shoot. Thank you Collin Street Bakery The next 125 will be spectacular
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 25, 2021 at 5:58 PM
Thank you so much, Jean! We appreciate you so much.
MRS JEANETTE NOLTE
October 23, 2021 at 9:29 AM
I have been a customer since 1989 and every year the Deluxe Fruit Cake takes centre place on our much decorated dining room table. The journey of Collin Street Bakery since 1896 is a remarkable journey and surely to be recorded in the history journals. To all those involved many congratulations on your 125 Birthday, may there be many more years of success.
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 25, 2021 at 5:57 PM
Thank you so much for your kind words! Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.
Ken Walden
October 26, 2021 at 12:38 AM
How much sugar in your fruitcakes? Trying to figure out how safe for type 2 diabetics.
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM
For one serving of our Regular DeLuxe® Fruitcake, there are 17g of total sugars. If you scroll through the images here, https://collinstreet.com/deluxe-fruitcake#size=5442 you will see the full list of nutritional facts. Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Barry Cohen
October 27, 2021 at 2:45 PM
We had visited the LA Virgen Finaca Corsicana plantation many years ago and bought your pineapple cakes , they where wonderful. We tried to go visit again yesterday while in Costa Rica and after a long search were finally told you don't sell those in Costa Rica anymore. It was a sad day, we wanted to share them with friends traveling with us.
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
October 27, 2021 at 6:02 PM
We are so sorry. You can order our Pineapple Pecan cake at any time from here, https://collinstreet.com/pineapple-pecan-cake.
Elbert Senter
October 29, 2021 at 10:47 AM
There are two good brands of sloe gin: Chase Sloe Mulberry Gin or Warner Edwards Harrington Sloe Gin. Most people prefer the Warner Edwards, though it's often hard to find in stores. In my opinion, both of these brands make a high-quality product that will stand up against even the most difficult cocktail competition.
Reply
Joyce Martinez
November 9, 2021 at 6:00 AM
I just placed an order but I forgot to specify "sliced". Can this be corrected?
Reply
Collin Street Bakery
November 13, 2021 at 6:10 PM
Hello, you will have to reach out to our customer service team about this request. You can reach them at (800) 267-4657.
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