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Traveling Texas: Corsicana's Collin Street Bakery

Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-23 07:57:25-05

CORSICANA, Texas — The holidays are filled with traditions — from the music to the decorations to the food. Perhaps no holiday dessert is more polarizing than the fruitcake. It seems you either love it or hate it.

We visit Corsicana and the Collin Street Bakery where the sentiment is definitely in the “love it” camp.

What’s not to love? Wonderful Texas pecans and dried fruits, it’s chewy and crunchy, a sweet blend of flavors.

At the family-owned Collin Street Bakery, they’ve been baking these sweet cakes since 1896.

“Let me tell you, you have not had the best fruitcake until you've had collins street bakery fruitcake. It is a whole different experience," said Executive Vice President Thomas McNutt, a fourth-generation owner-operator. “Titles don't mean a ton here because we're a small business and we all wear a lot of hats and pitch in."

At the Collin Street Bakery Cafe on West 7th in Corsicana, visitors can sample the fruitcake as well as enjoy lunch. But behind the scenes—an operation that turns out lots of fruitcake and other baked goodies.

“Our goal this year is 1.3 million pounds of cake," said McNutt.

They’re hand-decorated with pecans and cherries and shipped to more than 200 countries.

“Well, as the legend goes, apparently one of our fruitcakes made it into outer space on an Apollo mission. Many celebrities are our customers of ours," said McNutt. "We sent a cake just the other day to Chuck Norris, Walker Texas Ranger. And so we're very, very proud to send him some goodies.”

They credit their start in the mail-order business to the Ringling Brothers Circus!

“So when Corsicana was the wealthiest per capita city in the state of Texas, from the oil boom, entertainers would come to town around the turn of the 19th century. The original Collin Street Bakery had a little boutique hotel on the second floor. And so Mr. Ringling of Ringling Brothers Circus stayed at the hotel, woke up one morning, and experienced a wonderful aroma. And that was our original deluxe fruitcake," said McNutt. "And he came down, he said, I've got to try that. And he said these are amazing. Took him on the road with him and he would write back and say, would you send me more of those cakes, as the legend goes.”

And it’s not just fruitcake coming out of the Collin Street Bakery:

“We're a full-scale fresh scratch bakery. And so we've got many, many, many cookie flavors at our different bakeries. You'll find fresh scratched cookies, bread, pastries, and pies," said McNutt.

Something new is their refrigerator cookies you can bake at home...

As well as fruitcake petites... Cookie-sized portions that are drenched in a chocolate bath.

“And a lot of people don't know we've got one of the best-tasting cheesecakes on planet earth. We make a good pecan brittle and peanut brittle and make it the old-fashioned way in the old gas-fired-up kettle poured out on the marble slab and let it cool," said McNutt.

And there are even fruitcake-flavored beverages. Last year, Shiner Bock released one, and this year?

“So we got a call from another little beverage company this year. And that company's name is Mountain Dew. So we're very proud to be featured with shiner bock last year and mountain dew this year. Fruitcake's making a comeback," said McNutt.

Maybe your family holiday tradition also includes a debate over the merits of fruitcakes on the dessert table. For some, Christmas isn’t complete without a bite of deluxe fruitcake.