Holiday Sweet-Tooth Traditions: Close to Home
Weird and Wacky Regionally-Specific Holiday Traditions
At the Collin Street Bakery, the holiday season means one thing - a total fruitcake-making frenzy! Our ovens are basically running day and night cranking out as many cakes as we can. We know our DeLuxe® is a centerpiece for countless family traditions. So, it’s important nobody’s let down.
So clearly, baking millions of pounds of fruitcake is our holiday tradition. But, that’s just us. However, all this baking got us thinking - What other crazy holiday traditions do people keep? After a little research, we discovered some people have pretty weird, wild, and wacky holiday habits.
In fact, Christmas’ all across the United States looks a little different. While some places enjoy a Hallmark holiday complete with pine trees, white snowfalls, and gingerbread cookies, other places enjoy chili peppers, roast pigs, and bonfires. But before we dive deeper into these less-known holiday hoedowns, we want to share more about our own.
Fruitcake Holiday Origins
Interestingly, many scholars place the creation of fruitcake with the Ancient Egyptians. Egyptians were the first in recorded history to make cakes from the abundant fruits and grains locally available. Often, these cakes were so treasured, they were included in the ceremonial burials of Egyptian royalty.
Fruitcake later made an appearance in Europe with mentions of various kinds of fruit cakes crafted in the Middle Ages. The Romans even recorded their own created their own kind of barley mash cakes made with pine nuts, pomegranate, raisins, honey, and spices. Mention is made of Crusaders carrying the cakes to sustain them during their long trips away from home.
Trade routes further cemented fruitcake into European culture as exotic fruits and nuts were introduced into new recipes. These fruitcakes steadily gained popularity across Europe until they were banned in the 18th Century for being "sinfully rich.” By the end of the 18th Century, there were laws in place restricting the availability of fruitcakes (or their alternative term: plum cakes).
After sweeping through Europe, the fruitcakes made their way to North and South America where they were coveted as celebratory cakes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. For reasons unknown, Texas was the home to a number of popular, mail-order fruitcake purveyors. Collin Street Bakery became the largest in Texas (and the U.S.), but there was also Eilenburger’s Butternut Bakery in Palestine (TX), Mary of Puddin’ Hill in Greenville (TX), Texas Manor Fruitcake in Manor (TX), and Ya-Hoo! Baking Company (originally Mrs. King’s Bakery) in Sherman (TX).
Not-So Traditional Traditions
Thanks to fruitcake’s long and storied holiday history, we’re happy to say it is not going anywhere when it comes to holiday traditions. And even though the season carries its “staple” traditions – large feasts, family gatherings . . . Hallmark movies – there are some across the country that aren’t so common.
- Hawaii – A “pig roasting” is the traditional Christmas meal, and reason for all friends and family to gather around the spit.
- Louisiana – Enjoy a good bonfire with friends? Then consider a Christmas Eve celebration in Louisiana, where it’s a tradition to host large bonfires along the bayou.
- New Mexico – When a white Christmas isn’t a possibility, stick with what you know. New Mexico residents take “ristras” – a common red pepper – to make wreaths and other forms of decoration.
- Kentucky – We’re partial to this one: a fruitcake soaked in whiskey is a wildly popular holiday dessert in Kentucky. Because of course, it is.
- Texas – Last but not least, The Big Pecan Tree in Dallas is decorated every year to celebrate the season. We think the only thing better than pecans in a cake are lights on a pecan tree.
There you have it, fruitcake’s long holiday road made it to the U.S. and we’re all the better for it. Now head on over to our holiday sweet-tooth traditions - around the world article, where we venture across the globe to examine other holiday traditions in some of Collin Street’s most supportive countries.