The History of Collin Street Bakery

Historic Photo of A Baker at The Collin Street Bakery
Posted in: Bakery

The History of Collin Street Bakery

Once Upon A Time In The Lone Star State

Well, howdy there! Welcome to the Collin Street Bakery, home of the world-famous DeLuxe® Fruitcake. Now, for those of you who don’t know about our bakery, we’re kind of a big deal in the fruitcake world. - Why’s that? Because basically, we were the first-ever, U.S.-based, mail-order fruitcake company. That’s a pretty fancy feather in our cap.

But, we weren’t always the world-renowned fruitcake magnate known and loved today. Oh no! We have humble beginnings that started over 125 years ago. Our story begins when a young immigrant entrepreneur traveled to the Lone Star State with a dream and a whisk…

 

 

A Match Made In Heaven

In 1896, when a man by the name of Augustus “Gus” Weidmann traveled from Wiesbaden, Germany to Corsicana, Texas with the dream of opening a bakery.  Ladened with recipes from his motherland, it was Gus’ sole ambition to bake and share his authentic homemade breads and cakes. Shortly after settling in town, he purchased a storefront off the town’s main thoroughfare, Collin Street, and Collin Street Bakery was born.

 

The business, however, was not an immediate success. While Gus was a natural baker, he was far from a natural businessman. Shy and introverted, Gus lacked the specific salesmanship sparkle required to keep his bakery afloat. Luckily for Gus, in 1900, he was introduced to local entrepreneur, Thomas McElwee. The two took a shine to one another and a partnership was formed. Thomas agreed to man the bakery’s front-of-house operations, thus allowing Gus to stay where he referred, in the kitchen. In retrospect, had it not been for this partnership, it’s very possible Collin Street Bakery would not exist today.

 

With the newly minted duo in place, Collin Street’s business began to blossom. In the early 1900s, the bakery was best known for its freshly baked bread delivered directly to homes and businesses with the assistance of horse-drawn carriages. Over time, however, the demand for our bread began to outpace our delivery efforts and horse-drawn carriages were replaced by the far more efficient Model-T Trucks.

 

Bed & Breakfast

By 1906, Collin Street Bakery was thriving. With the local community clamoring for more and more of the bakery’s breads and cakes, Gus was struggling to keep up the demand. So, Thomas decided it was time to expand the business. A two-storied, second location, situated on the corner of 6th and Main, was purchased. The bakery would be located on the bottom floor and as for the top floor, Thomas had a plan.

You see, at this time, Corsicana was a booming oil town, tucked snugly in the crook of one of the country’s most-trafficked railroad intersections. For some time, Thomas McElwee had been observing the comings and goings of the town’s visitors; he watched as travelers arrived on one train, stayed the night, then departed on the next the morning after. With so many guests frequenting the town, Thomas astutely saw the value in owning rent-by-the-day lodging. So, he modified the second story of the newly purchased bakery location with individual rooms and began operating a luxury hotel.

 

In just a matter of weeks, business at the second location was booming! With a continuous flow of new customers visiting both the hotel and the bakery, it appeared Thomas had landed on a winning combination. And, because the Collin Street Bakery’s hotel was one of the more lavish and accommodating stays in the area, it drew visitors of high stature and wealth; visitors like opera singer Enrico Caruso, stage and film actor Will Rogers, Major League Baseball player John J. McGraw, circus owner John Ringling, and professional boxer “Gentleman Jim” Corbett.

 

Stumbled In Backwards

So, how did Collin Street go from a thriving local bakery to a globally-recognized, mail-order business? By complete accident that’s how! Turns out, some of life’s best ideas are simply stumbled upon. In the bakery’s case, our tumble into greatness occurred not too long after the hotel's grand opening...

For most guests, staying the night in a hotel situated atop a bakery was dangerously tempting. Mouth-watering aromas of freshly baked goods flooded the hotel day and night. Lured by the scent, most patrons would purchase cakes as gifts and treats just before leaving town. The most frequently bought item? - Our DeLuxe® Fruitcake!

 

Remember, most customers were simply passing through town, staying for a single night before continuing on to parts unknown. Because our DeLuxe® Fruitcakes were trusted to safely travel long distances, required no refrigeration, and were downright delicious any time of the day, they were a huge hit amongst out-of-towners. Once departing, customers would share a slice of fruitcake here and there, unknowingly broadcasting the Collin Street Bakery name to friends, family members, and even other fellow travelers.

Little did Thomas or Gus, Collin Street Bakery's name was being spread and celebrated near and far. Guests, travelers, and celebrities alike had all been sharing their cakes with friends and family, each of whom was eager to purchase a cake of their own. Soon, letters came pouring in, bearing requests for Collin Street to mail our fruitcakes to locations all across the nation. Not wanting to disappoint a single eager customer, Thomas and Gus began boxing up cakes and mailing them out, thus unknowingly starting one of the country's first mail-order food businesses.

 

Fast Forward

Well a hop, a skip, and a jump later, here we are today. Tom McElwee and Gus Weidmann are no longer with us. Deeply connected to each other, they passed away within a year of one another. However, the management of Collin Street Bakery transitioned smoothly into experienced hands, remaining a family-owned and -operated business ever since.

 

Meanwhile, the unplanned global expansion of our humble bakery helped make us the business we are today. And over a hundred years later, many things haven’t changed. Granted, we no longer own the hotel and we no longer deliver in a horse and buggy BUT, we still make the world’s best dang fruitcake - the DeLuxe®. We still ship all over the world, year-round and we still call Corsicana our home.

 

We’ve perfected the art of baking quality goods, ensuring they arrive at your doorstep fresh and ready to eat. We’re practically mail order dessert experts. So, whether your order is for one cake or 1,000, we make certain your DeLuxe® will arrive in perfect condition anywhere in the world. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not! Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee means if you don’t absolutely love what arrives, we’ll make it right.

So put our skills to the test! Order one of our world-famous DeLuxe® Fruitcakes today and see for yourself if we live up to the hype. Our DeLuxe® Fruitcake is just a few clicks away. Available in a variety of sizes AND in sliced and unsliced versions, you're guaranteed to find something you like.

Shop all our delicious selection of DeLuxe® Fruitcakes today!

SHOP OUR DELUXE® FRUITCAKE

January 5, 2021
Comments
Cathy Evonbentz
January 6, 2021 at 11:42 AM
Love this story of yours and I love your pineapple pecan cake, its out of this world!.
tammie
January 9, 2021 at 1:15 PM
I tried your fruitcakes for the first time , it's hard to find good ones these days you know . Fruitcakes are a dying breed . We loved the deluxe one but were not fond of the apricot , I was very excited to taste the apricot one because I love apricots, but was disappointed. I felt it was rather blah .
mrs Marie Kuzdzal
January 6, 2021 at 11:43 AM
I loved reading the history of the company, but live eating the fruitcake more! Thanks!!
John M Rogers
January 6, 2021 at 11:44 AM
Best fruitcake on the planet !
mrs Marie Kuzdzal
January 6, 2021 at 11:51 AM
I enjoyed reading about the history of the bakery but would have liked to have learned more of the transition of management in lieu just "a hop, skip and jump". Most of all, I was hoping to learn about the cake tins you use. When were they first used, who designed them, etc. I'm 57 years old and can remember seeing those tins at Christmas time each year since I was a very young child. I had no idea what was in them but do recall them always being in our house at Christmas. Thank you!
Karen Mechem
January 6, 2021 at 11:52 AM
I have sampled many fruitcakes and believe there is none better than yours. Thanks for making it!
VIRGINIA R BERTRAND
January 6, 2021 at 11:53 AM
I love Collin Street Bakery!!!! Their fruitcakes and cookies are delicious!
CLAIRE GAMBAO-ZUHLKE
January 6, 2021 at 11:54 AM
I started getting your fruitcakes back in 1964ish, when I lived in San Francisco. Husband's aunt gave us one. We moved to NYC and we kept ordering. That husband moved back to Calif, and I moved to Antigua. I think? I may have ordered some while down there 1970 to 1972, not sure. Moved to Fla, got married, and started my own ordering. Eventually that husband died, and I got another one, and WE continued ordering. Life goes on, but unfortunately the fruit cakes don't, as they are consumed within a day or two of opening. Guess i better order some now, before it gets too warm to ship?
Ethel Hodges
January 6, 2021 at 11:57 AM
I usually order a fruitcake but this year I bought one at our local H‑E‑B. I thank you for making your product available locally.
Terry Rau
January 6, 2021 at 11:57 AM
Your Deluxe Fruitcake is a masterpiece! We've been enjoying it some 40 years in a tradition begun by Aunt Ferroll of Omaha. She said she was sending "something for the children" (all of us) and guess what showed up - your fruitcake. Aunt Ferroll died a number of years ago but the tradition lives on and has expanded. We order one for my husband's brother every Christmas with a card: "Merry Christmas! Love, Aunt Ferroll." My 90-year-old Aunt mentioned several years ago she "loves" fruitcake. She's now on our Christmas list and she does love it! Thank you ... Terry Rau, St. Charles, MO
Janet Parker
January 6, 2021 at 12:09 PM
I have ordered -- and enjoyed -- Deluxe Fruitcake every year for some time. To me, the holiday season means I must have a fruitcake -- and Collin Street Bakery's fruitcake is my choice. I have tried others, but this one wins!
Mary Hodges
January 6, 2021 at 12:21 PM
This is a true story, there's no doubt as I have appreciated and enjoyed your cakes for at least 50 years. The quality has been consistently excellent and will change minds of those who say they don't like fruitcake.
James Henderson
January 6, 2021 at 12:26 PM
Great fruit cake
William Todd
January 6, 2021 at 12:42 PM
I've had 2 of your fruitcakes & will order another later. They are very good, I've had other people who were not fond of fruit cakes & they liked them.
RICHARD PATTON
January 6, 2021 at 12:44 PM
YOU'VE SAID IT ALL. NO TASTELESS SUGARY GLAZED FRUIT TO BE FOUND. OF THE THREE FRUIT CAKES I HAVE FOUND ACCEPTABLE, COLLIN STREET'S IS WAY OUT FRONT. NOW THAT I'VE TASTED YOURS, I'LL FORGET THE REST. GREAT TO KNOW AVAILABILITY IS YEAR ROUND, NOT JUST AT HOLIDAY TIME. AND, PECANS ARE THE BEST.
William Eddins Sims
January 6, 2021 at 12:48 PM
Have been a fan of your product for years! Shared with my friends globally, also! Thanks for such a delightful product! All the best for many years to come.
Howard Creek
January 6, 2021 at 1:03 PM
I was first introduced to you Deluxe in the 1980’s when my mother (who lived in Dallas) began sending me one every Christmas. I was a career Air Force officer so I received the Deluxe at all of my assignments including Guam, Korea, Germany, and Saudi Arabia plus a variety of US locations. My mom died in 2007 and that same time, unbeknownst to me my daughter was struggling to think of a good Christmas present. She and her husband knew I liked fruitcake and searched the internet for a mail order fruitcake company. I received my Colin Street Deluxe the day after my mom’s funeral. My daughter never new that my mom sent me a Deluxe each year. She has ow replaced my mom and I continue to get a Deluxe every Christmas. Sincerely Howard Creek, Colonel, USAF Retired Dayton, OH
louis Burke
January 6, 2021 at 1:07 PM
I love your fruitcake personally, and even made a few myself in early days. Now I am sure your records show how many I have sent to my friends around the country, and they are all unanimous in their praise. Bravo and keep up the good work, LSB
Jason Smith
January 6, 2021 at 1:07 PM
None better than Collin Street! I have had many failed fruitcakes from many people and companies. Collin Street Bakery’s fruitcake and pecan cakes are the very best in the world—a rare jewel in a world of lesser products! I joyfully consume Collin Street delicacies throughout the year...needing a fix of their incredible offerings quite often. As I read the article regarding the company’s incredible history, tears welled up as I realized this is one of America’s great success stories. Collin Street Bakery is the embodiment of the American Dream and the melding of a delicious product and hard work!
Patricia Hochschild
January 6, 2021 at 1:08 PM
Loved this fascinating story about your Deluxe Fruitcake that my parents introduced to us so many years ago at Christmas. It since has become a special and favorite family tradition. Every Christmas I now send one my brothers and order a large fruitcake for my family, my children grandchildren. We all look forward to the arrival of the Collin Street Bakery box every year!!!!
Elaine Agran
January 6, 2021 at 1:27 PM
When I discovered your wonderful fruitcake I realized it was not only delicious but better than mine! Needless to say, I no longer bake mine when I can purchase yours. I've served it for years now and receive countless comments each year from friends and relatives about how good it is and asking how I do it. I tell them the truth and many are also now customers of yours and delighted with your product - we all thank you.
Martin Carbone
January 6, 2021 at 1:38 PM
Wonderful story on a beautiful beginning! Put Corscicna on the map!
Peggy Belger
January 6, 2021 at 1:48 PM
Great, delicious fruit cakes and I have ordered them twice. Fruit cake and coffee makes a good breakfast.
Janice Freeberg
January 6, 2021 at 1:48 PM
I have eaten Colin Street deluxe fruitcake my entire life, it is my favorite. I enjoyed reading your brief history I sense that much was left out, the growing pains, I will need to purchase the book I saw advertised. Keep up the great baking and shipping!
Peggy Belger
January 6, 2021 at 1:50 PM
Great, delicious fruit cakes and I have ordered them twice.
Tom Frazak
January 6, 2021 at 2:54 PM
Thanks for sharing that great story! We love your fruitcake. It is simply the best! Keep up the good work!
Jane Mayo
January 6, 2021 at 3:27 PM
I have been buying the deluxe fruitcake since back in the mid 90’s and absolutely love them. This year I ate the first one in a month and had to order another one. My husband has never liked fruitcake, but I got him to finally try it this year and he found out he liked it.
William J Paz
January 6, 2021 at 3:32 PM
I fell in love with your Fruitcakes in the early 70s. Today I now order them at Christmas time.
mrs Marie Kuzdzal
January 6, 2021 at 3:43 PM
I tasted my first Collin Street Bakery fruitcake when I lived in Arizona. One of the doctor's brought several to the OR break room at the holidays. I had never tasted fruitcake so delicious. I no longer live in Arizona but I still order from Collin Street Bakery as it is not Christmas without one of their delicious fruitcakes. They make excellent gifts and I love to spread the joy. We had one interesting experience when we sent my husband's cousin a fruit cake to Finland. They had never seen a fruitcake like this and initially weren't sure if it was a decoration or something to eat. Fortunately for all concerned they decided it must be edible and indulged. We received many thanks for the delicious treat. Keep up the good work!
Yvonne Rosenquist
January 6, 2021 at 3:53 PM
I grew up near Corsicana and lived nearby for 7 years before leaving home for college and parts abroad!! But your fruitcakes were part of my growing up years! They are delicious!!! Thank you for your labors!! Yvonne Cogswell Rosenquist
Leticia Loera
January 6, 2021 at 3:56 PM
Love my Fruitcake & Pecan cake will order again
Joseph Campise
January 6, 2021 at 4:13 PM
This is the best fruitcake we ever ate...growing up fruitcake was not good at all...dry and stale... Collins Street Bakery fruitcake is absolutely delicious, moist and chock-full of nuts and fruit....every bite is jam packed with flavor and it is not overly sweet..which is what one might expect from a fruitcake....it also keeps its moisture after it is cut... I highly recommend trying this fruitcake I highly recommend
Donald Timpson
January 6, 2021 at 6:02 PM
Worked at Terminal Annex US Post Office 1966-1974 and retired 2002.I have personally unloaded and sorted at a minimum ten thousand of your fruitcakes in that time period going to 750,751,752 zip codes.You may not know this but only select mail handlers were allowed to handle your products.Special care was the standard that was required to be assigned to that task. A separate setup was always used to sort your fruitcakes and they were always loaded on our city station trucks last and secured with empty mail bags as required to prevent any movement of the mail equipment.
Antoinette Gonzales
January 6, 2021 at 7:48 PM
My family has purchased fruitcakes from Collins Street Bakery for over 60 years. My mother started the tradition. She passed earlier this year and I have continued the tradition. Thank you! We love your fruitcake!! Antoinette Gonzales
Joan Soutar
January 6, 2021 at 9:30 PM
wonderful tasting fruitcake and fruit petites this December.
Marjorie
January 7, 2021 at 2:39 AM
I have been purchasing my annual fruitcake since 1964, although lately my daughter orders it for me each year. I have not missed a Collin Street Fruitcake for 56 years!
Philip Scholly
January 7, 2021 at 8:08 AM
Why do you no longer include coffee with your fruitcake as an option? The persons on my Christmas gift list enjoyed that.
Donna E Skinner
January 7, 2021 at 8:31 AM
Several years ago I sampled one of these fruitcakes. It was delicious! It didn't have that 'soapy' taste like local store bought fruitcakes have. I wish I knew which fruitcake it was. I'll probably order one just to see if it is as good as I remember.
Paula Lynch
January 7, 2021 at 12:02 PM
Love your story! Our family favorite is the Texas Pecan Cake. And, we love stopping by your bakery in Corsicana, or the location in Waco, whenever we can. Personal favorite is the cherry Ice box cookies - YUM.
C T MCDONALD II
January 7, 2021 at 3:30 PM
What a wonderful story! I'm 68 years old, and have lived in Texas(Dallas)all my life. My mother always had the Deluxe fruitcake every Christmas, and I still carry on the tradition. Wouldn't miss it. In fact, I sometimes give in and order one later on in the year. Please don't change a thing. I am so glad to hear the business is still family owned and operated. May your future be bright!
Glenn Davis
January 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Please, please, please................... never change. Your products are wonderful and we eat them year round and send as gifts. Wonderful.
Dorothy Ebert
January 8, 2021 at 12:35 PM
My brother and sister-in-law introduced me to your fruitcake when they lived in Corsicana. My bro died as a 1st Lt. U.S. Army in the Berlin Wall Crises. My sis-in-law later remarried and each Christmas sent me one of your fruitcakes. I loved them & shared with my relatives. She remarried another soldier who had been serving as my bro had & I married also. The cakes continued to be sent and my kids called him "Uncle". Now she is in a home & we no longer received the cake but my son in Hutto, TX.learned that HEB in RoundRock, TX. also sold your cakes. We bought 6 this year, for us, for gifts, and for treating others. They always brought smiles & address requests. Thank you!
Carol Cooley
January 8, 2021 at 12:39 PM
We really enjoyed our annual Collin Street Bakery fruitcake for the holidays!! I loved reading your story here!! In the mid 1960s, my father, Robert Bushock, who worked in the edible fats and oils industry, sold shortening to your company. We lived in Texas then. He took my best friend and I on a business trip from Ft. Worth to Corsicana one December and we got to meet people from your company! This is the best tasting fruitcake in all the world!!! Thank you for sharing your story!!!
Lilly
January 8, 2021 at 12:53 PM
The Collin Street Bakery fruitcake and the story simply cannot be beat. I have liked fruitcake ever since I tried the Deluxe!
Owl Proofread for You
January 8, 2021 at 1:55 PM
The "Story" is charming and the photos are great. One thing you might want to look at. 2nd paragraph of "Match Made in Heaven." It now reads: Thomas agreed to man the bakery’s front-of-house operations, thus allowing Gus to stay where he referred, in the kitchen." Pretty sure it is where Gus *preferred* to stay. :-)
Louis LeRoy Norbeck
January 8, 2021 at 4:10 PM
Loved reading your history...my mother's family lived in Corsicana in the 1930's and she told me how her parents would take the family to the Collins Street Bakery for pastries, what a treat it was. After moving to Maryland, my grandparents would always stop at the CSB when visiting and bring back goodies to us .We've been conducting business long-distance for almost 100 years. Keep it coming
Melody Hart
January 8, 2021 at 7:14 PM
Every Christmas when I was growing up in Dallas in the sixties mother would always order your fruit cakes. They were always so good! WhenI grew up Mother would always mail me one for Christmas! It was always a treat! But one Christmas she sent me your apricot cake to try. I fell in love with it right away! Mother is gone now but every Christmas I have to order your apricot cake and believe me I love every bite! Thank you for your wonderful products! Christmas would not be right with out your cakes!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
James Pierce
January 9, 2021 at 12:34 AM
CSB Fruitcake is as original as Texas! My grandmother’s father, “Daddy” Hornbeak, owned the property where the Bakery started in Corsicana. So ever since CSB’s beginning, our family has ordered and or gifted your products each year. Following Texas traditions we have black eyed peas on New Years Day and if the CSB fruitcake is gone, we make Potica (my wife’s recipe from her grandmother’s family in Eastern Europe). Thank goodness for Collin Street Bakery products.
George Klacik Jr
January 9, 2021 at 10:14 AM
We have been eating your fruit cakes since the 1960s. My father had his own business in NJ and used to buy about 75 of the fruit cakes to pass out to his customers, employees and family. Just ate an Apple Cinnamon Pecan Cake that was in our freezer since 2015 and it was great. When are you going to sell them again?
Jerry Herbst
January 11, 2021 at 11:50 AM
Our introduction to your fruitcakes came back in 1965. While working North Chicago, Illinois, I worked with a contractor who would gift us a fruitcake each Christmas time. We've been buying your fruitcakes and other products ever since for our enjoyment and as gifts. Once or twice a year we drive to Austin, Texas to visit our daughter's family, and since your Bellmead bakery is right on our route, we try to stop in as often as we can.
Ms Barbara J G Kiser
January 18, 2021 at 11:24 AM
Loved the story! Ever think of writing a book about the history of Collin Street Bakery? I'm one of the few people I've known who says they really like fruitcake. I've been able to change a few minds over the years by letting them try a slice of my Collin Street. I have ordered as gifts too. I have tried other fruitcakes but NONE can even dare to compare with Collin Street Bakery's fruitcake! It is by far the BEST FRUITCAKE ever! Jane Gauthier Kiser
Collin Street Bakery
January 22, 2021 at 10:42 AM
Thank you so much, what a wonderful idea! We are so glad you share our delicious cakes.
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