‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the Season

Are there individuals who actually make fruitcakes anymore? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a knee-jerk fruitcake basher; I like a slice or two of good fruitcake during the holiday season. It’s just that when I think of the members of my extended family who might actually bake a fruitcake, they’ve all been dead about 50 years. And where on earth do you get that stuff that goes in a fruitcake? Hobby Lobby? Is it actually in the grocery store? I do know someone who still makes fruitcakes. Claxton, Georgia, is Fruitcake Central. When I was young and starting out, my new bride and I worked for a while on the coast of Georgia. To visit “home” and our parents, we’d have to traverse the breadth of that largest of southern states. One route took us through Claxton, and you could smell the fruitcakes cooking. It smelled pretty darn good.

44 responses to “‘Tis the Season”

  1. I’ll have to see if my sister got our grandmother’s recipe. I know that our mother used it in the 90’s. I don’t remember when she last made it, though.

    It’s probably too late to make it this year.

  2. I think my grandmother made fruitcake sometimes, because I remember her buying those little containers of brightly colored fruit and boxes of dates. No rum as she was strictly temperance, so probably used bottled extract. I like some premade fruitcake, but it cannot have citron in it. That stuff tastes so bad to me that, well, let’s not go there.

    Looks like there’s more rum in Janis than in the fruitcake!

  3. I buy my wife a fruitcake every year for Christmas. It’s actually very good! (I don’t know if I can share the name of the place I order it from. Is advertising allowed on this blog?)

    • I like one brand of fruitcake, and my husband likes it so well that he gets one for Christmas. Most other fruitcake is okay, so I won’t refuse to eat it, but the fruitcake made by the bakery in Corsicana Texas is the only one I actually go looking for and buy. It does not have rum, but I am sure you could add it.

      So ruralbob – is this the fruitcake you like?

      • I also favor Claxton and have been getting their best for quite some years now. It is expected that more will appear this Christmas. Last year, from a few donors, I received 8 lbs. of the stuff! Heavenly.
        Claxton cakes are readily available from their own place or via eBay.

      • The ones I order for my wife are from Collin Street Bakery. I saw them featured on a show on the Food Network a number of years ago. Watching fruitcakes being made is fascinating.

      • Glad you gave the plug: I’m about an hour’s drive away from Claxton and have to make myself stay away from them lest I eat too much at a sitting.

  4. I made one just last year! It was excellent, made with “bonded and bottled” 100 proof whiskey direct from Woodford Distillery. The ingredients (and baking) are fairly straight forward and available at any grocery store.

  5. My high school/college girlfriend made one once in the mid-to-late ’70s; researched recipes, bought only top-grade ingredients, put great care into the baking – and it was every bit as inedible as every other fruitcake I’ve ever encountered.

  6. If I were going to make (or eat) a fruitcake, I’d have to go with Alton Brown’s version. (Google Alton Brown Free Range Fruitcake, if you are interested.
    Note: There’s no citron listed in the ingredients. (What *is* Citron, anyway. I thought it was a French automobile. 🙂 )

    • The citron (Citrus medica) is a large fragrant citrus fruit with a thick rind. It is one of the original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed.

  7. I think that Texas Fruit Cake maker was featured on “How it’s Made”

    I make a Friendship Bread version of Fruit Cake every year – generally start accumulating
    ingredients right after the first of the year. 🙂

  8. Perhaps oddly, I prefer my booze apart from my fruitcake – in a glass. Does Bacardi still market the 151 proof firewater? That stuff can really set you free! I’ll never forget the time my beloved SIL made up a potent fruit punch using an entire bottle of 151 proof instead of, say, 80 proof….

    • The sale of Bacardi 151-proof was apparently discontinued in 2016, at least in the US. (Perhaps it was deemed a fire hazard. 🙂 ) I use Bacardi Gold 80-proof in my rum cakes. And by the way, my recipe is from Bacardi, printed on a card that used to be given out in liquor stores this time of year. Perhaps they still are, but I still have the one I obtained 30+ years ago.

  9. Dear Jimmy and fans,
    Since I’ve been considered for a long time to be nutty as a fruitcake, allow me to use this occasion to ask a question. Maybe you or one of your erudite followers can helpl

    On April 14, 2013, your Arlo and Janis strip left us befuddled, and over six years since we still have not been able to figure out what that strip was about, nor can any of our friends figure it out. Can you please tell us now?

    The first panel showed what looked like a farmhouse, with a red barn to the right in the background. There appeared to be a ladder on the porch roof, leaning against the main roof.

    The second panel has Arlo proudly pointing to something outside our view, or maybe pointing to a ladder, with a toolbox in front of him.

    The third panel shows Janis hugging his arm, with Arlo holding his hat in front of him, both smiling blissfully.

    The fourth panel shows Janis with a shovel about to dig into the lawn, with a paper sack on the ground to her right.

    The last panel shows, not sure what–a dead tree, the trunk with two dead branches on the left; in front a burned patch of weeds on what may be just the walkway to the front steps, where the house may have stood, and two patches of yellow soil with some green plant stalks on their edges.

    What are we to make of this? Did her shovel set off a bomb, and the house burned and everyone is dead? This wasn’t even an April Fool’s issue. Please tell us!

    — Kate Jones

    • I stole the below comment from GoComics, but it so clearly describes the strip you noted.

      Panel 1, we see what looks like a nice house, years ago, when it was new….Panels 2 and 3… Standing there beside his ladder and tools,to show us that he built it himself, a man proudly shows it to his new bride..who is thrilled, then proud and grateful…So in panel 4, she puts in a garden…which to some may look like a small gesture…yet in the end, when the people have moved on, Nature takes over, and the house is eventually gone…. but the flowers remain.

      So the woman’s contribution was not small….in fact she probably also bore children…whose generations live on..The seeds she nourished . outlasted the things of man.

    • Looking at the GoComics site for that date and perusing a few comments – I like this comment that was left (by the way – that isn’t Arlo and Janis – it must be their ancestors):

      “I live in southern Alabama and have seen that staging before. A few empty steps or a couple of pillars leading up a dirt road to where a an old fireplace stands.No house. It is long gone. There you will see azalea bushes and honeysuckle and magnolias planted by some long-ago housewife. It is her continued gift to the world. A lovely strip today and one that will stay with me.”

    • Jimmy seems to prefer to allow his cartoons to make their own statements, and I don’t remember ever seeing him explain one. I took it to mean that despite much in life being transitory, it can create enduring beauty.

      Godson II had a school assignment to write an elegy. I showed him that cartoon and suggested he use it as the basis of one titled “The Home Place”. He did. I think I still have it on my computer and may post it one day.

    • The comic in question was a wry comment on the foilbles of man’s labors. The man (not Arlo, but a pioneer farmer) proudly builds a sturdy house and barn. His wife (not Janis) plants flowers to give it a homey touch. Flash forward decades later- man’s work is long gone but nature’s handiwork (the flowers) still go on.

    • https://www.gocomics.com/arloandjanis/2013/04/14 Sue in NC has it right. It shows a couple building a farmhouse in the late 1800’s ( I think), and the woman planting bulbs. The last panel shows the property today, with the home and barn gone, the tree a dead trunk, but the flowers still spreading and blooming. I’m from West Alabama and I have seen that image throughout the South, from Tennessee to Florida. When you plant on your property, your work lives on.

  10. Jimmy, do you want Nadine Knowles fruit cake recipe? It will be a little taste of home.

    I can post it in the FB page.
    And you get all that stuff at the grocery store. Tastee Cakes make a pretty good one.

  11. I love fruitcake, but when I was in high school, Mother found a recipe for Bishop’s Bread, and that’s all she baked every Christmas until her death. It was so-o-o good — the chocolate chips make it special for a chocolate lover! Her recipe was probably this one: https://www.momlovesbaking.com/bishop-bread/; it just contains red and green candied cherries, chocolate chips, and pecans, all folded into the sweet batter. Although it may have been more like this one with dates added: https://www.food.com/recipe/bishops-bread-64027. I think the Corsicana bakery mentioned above, Collin Street Bakery, makes a version, but nothing is as good as fresh-baked.

  12. My sister still makes the fruitcake recipe that my mother and grandmother made. My grandma was a prominent member at the large Baptist Church in their town, so we had to bring the dark rum from out of town and take the bottle away after the cakes were “baptised” and cured. 😀

    It’s a delicious recipe!

    • A Garrison Keillor joke (so don’t fact-check me):
      Jews don’t recognize Jesus.
      Protestants don’t recognize the Pope.
      And Baptists don’t recognize each other in a liquor store.

        • Yes, Mom had saved a label from a Baker’s German Chocolate bar with the cake recipe on it. She made all of it from scratch, from the cake itself to the coconut pecan frosting. When I got old enough, she let me help by chopping the pecans with one of those gadgets that had a metal chopper on top of a glass measuring cup. For those not old enough to remember them, you dropped in what you wanted to chop, put the top with the chopper on, and then rapidly pressed down on the wooden handle until the food was as fine as you wanted.

  13. In going through my late aunt’s (she died in 2006 at age 89) home, I found in her freezer a Claxton fruit cake that appeared to have been placed there in the 1950s. I wisely did not check to see if it was still edible. I have no idea why she had saved it…..

  14. To make a fruitcake is not trivial; good ingredients are a must, and they add up. My mother developed two recipies, light and dark. I am willing to share,if there is interest.

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