A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 24, 2006
Texas Fruitcake

Texas fruitcake is a specialty of the Collin Street Bakery of Corsicana, Texas. The bakery began in 1896, and its fruitcakes are now popular all around the world.


Texas Fruitcake
Texas Fruitcake & Pecan Cake From Corsicana, Texas

Our family-owned-and-operated bakery, located just 50 miles south of Dallas, Texas, has been baking the world-famous DeLuxe Fruitcake for over 110 years.

The DeLuxe Texas Fruitcake or Pecan Cake you order today is still baked true to the Old-World recipe brought to Corsicana, Texas from Wiesbaden, Germany in 1896 by master baker Gus Weidmann. He and his partner, Tom McElwee, built a lively business in turn-of-the-century Corsicana which included an elegant hotel on the top floor of the bakery. Many famous guests enjoyed their fine hospitality including Enrico Caruso, Will Rogers, John J. McGraw, “Gentleman Jim” Corbett and John Ringling.

In fact, the bakery was thrust into the mail order business when Mr. Ringling’s circus troupe, upon tasting the mouth-watering DeLuxe Texas Fruitcake, Pecan cake asked to have these Christmas Cakes sent to family and friends throughout Europe. And so began an international Christmas gift tradition.

We are mail order specialists, and whether your order is for one cake or 1,000, we make sure it is sent exactly as requested. Many years of experience, coupled with our decorative holiday tin and protective shipping carton, ensure your gift will arrive in perfect condition anywhere in the world, fresh delivery guaranteed.

The Collin Street Bakery Story

For true fruitcake connoisseurs, 1896 was a banner year for it marked the first year of the Original DeLuxe, “that famous Corsicana, Texas Fruitcake.” The grand-tasting DeLuxe, whose recipe had traveled 6,000 miles from Wiesbaden, Germany, was introduced to this little Texas town by a gentle German baker named August Weidmann.  And if history had left the rest to Gus, this cake’s reputation might never have got past the city limits. Happily, though, history brought him a wealthy partner and master salesman named Tom McElwee.

The shy, perfectionist Gus Weidmann ran his little kitchen in this newly formed Collin Street Bakery and made ready for the busy Christmas seasons.  At the same time, Tom McElwee was sending out letters, making sales trips, and lining up an ever-growing list of Bakery customers. They made a nice team and enjoyed such success that their once anonymous DeLuxe Texas Fruitcake and Pecan Cake became a delicacy to be sought after by folks from every corner of the globe.

Google Groups: alt.obituaries
From: 
Date:  Wed, Sep 6 2006 11:27 am

Fruitcake purveyor Bill McNutt dead at 81
CORSICANA, Texas The man who promoted the Corsicana-made DeLuxe Fruitcake into a global direct-mail favorite has died.

Collin Street Bakery Chairman L. William “Bill” McNutt Junior died Friday at his home in Corsicana of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 81.

Funeral was held Monday at Corsicana’s First Baptist Church.

McNutt’s father and uncle had bought the bakery from three other partners in 1946 and asked McNutt to help run the business in 1958. As president from 1967 until 1998, he expanded the baker’s clientele worldwide by pioneering computerized direct mail operations.

Los Angeles Times
L.W. McNutt Jr., 81; His Company Sold Fruitcake to World
By Claire Noland, Times Staff Writer
September 16, 2006

L. William “Bill” McNutt Jr., who turned his family’s bakery in Corsicana, Texas, into a specialized mail-order business that ships holiday fruitcakes around the world, has died. He was 81.

McNutt, who was president of Collin Street Bakery from 1967 to 1998, died Sept. 1 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at his Corsicana home, his son Bob McNutt said.
The bakery, which opened in 1896, got a jolt when McNutt arrived in 1958 and shifted its focus to mail-order sales. He introduced computerized mailing lists, direct consumer marketing and efficient shipping methods to eventually extend the firm’s reach to 196 countries.

The company annually sells about 3 million pounds of fruitcake, or about 1.5 million cakes. That’s just fruitcake, which accounts for 98% of the bakery’s total sales. And nearly all of those sales are by mail order, primarily from October to December, when cakes are packaged in a red Christmas tin decorated with a cowboy and his lasso. 
(...)
In the 1950s, Collin Street was essentially a regional bread bakery, but McNutt had bigger plans for selling fruitcakes to a wider audience. At the beginning, employees would copy names and addresses of prospective customers out of phone books gathered from around the country.

McNutt led efforts to sell the baked goods directly to international consumers and to create a database that could be computerized. Later, he was quick to recognize the value of emerging technologies by accepting orders via phone, fax and the Internet.

United Press International
Texas fruitcake mogul McNutt dies at 81

CORSICANA, Texas, Sept. 16 (UPI)—L. William “Bill” McNutt, the man behind those ubiquitous love ‘em or hate ‘em Texas mail-order fruitcakes, has died of lymphoma at 81.

McNutt built a global customer database for the family-owned Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, making 1.5 million fruitcakes that were shipped in berry-red tins to more than 190 nations each year, the Los Angeles Times reported. He died on Sept. 1 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his son, Bob McNutt, said.

The venerable bakery, a longtime family business, opened in 1896. McNutt brought the bakery into its current direct-consumer marketing and efficient shipping methods when he arrived on scene in 1958.

It was McNutt who actually bought a local pecan processor and an organic pineapple farm in Costa Rica, the Times said, to ensure a “steady supply of ingredients for the best-selling ‘World Famous DeLuxe Fruitcake.’”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, September 24, 2006 • Permalink