Today Chris Lambrecht is an accomplished marketing consultant in Atlanta. But in 1962, he was a Boy Scout in Columbus, Ohio, making his first door-to-door sale.
"We sold fruitcakes for our annual fundraiser," he recalls. "We bought the small ones for 50 cents and tried to sell them for a dollar. It wasn't an easy sell, but we told our prospects it was 'like candy.'"
The fruitcakes were studded candied fruits and nuts suspended in a dense and sometimes brandy- or bourbon-soaked batter, and came from a bakery in Claxton, Georgia, a town that would later lay claim to the title of Fruitcake Capital of the World. The rival town of Corsicana, Texas, also calls itself the Fruitcake Capital of the World and has been home to DeLuxe Fruitcake production since 1896. Perhaps both could lay aside their differences in honor of National Fruitcake Day. The unofficial holiday falls every year on Dec. 27, perhaps due to the need to re-gift the cake that's a traditional Christmastime present in some parts of the world.
Despite the fruitcake's less-than-inspired reputation, Lambrecht's results were positive. He sold several and his parents ended up buying "12 pounds or so. I suspect I developed a taste for fruitcake that holiday season," he says. "Claxton remains one of my faves."
Lambrecht isn't alone. The bakeries in Claxton produce more than 4 million pounds (1.8 million kilograms) of fruitcake each year. That's about as much as four 747 airplanes combined. That's a lot of fruitcake when few people seem to admit a love for the weighty confection.
Fruitcakes are a notoriously re-gifted and long-stored confection, particularly making appearances during the winter holiday season. In 2011, a 70-year-old fruitcake surfaced at an Ohio auction, where the circa-1941 treat (still unopened in its original tin!) sold for $525. Other fruitcakes are rumored to be even older. In 2003, Jay Leno sampled a fruitcake that was baked in 1878 and quipped, "It needs more aging." Learn more about that ancient treat in this video below.