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...
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.