The Fruitcake Capital of the World
Welcome to Claxton, Georgia—home to 2,600 people and 4 million pounds of fruitcake.
Is it fate or coincidence that The Fruitcake Capital of the World is just 35 minutes from Santa Claus, Georgia? I don’t know. But when I discovered their proximity while researching our trip to Santa Claus (which you can read about here), I knew no Christmas road trip would be complete without a visit to both.
Claxton has two fruitcake companies, but the one you’re most likely to be familiar with is Claxton Bakery, which dates to 1910 and ships its fruitcakes around the world. It has had starring roles in the 1964 World’s Fair, several Orange Bowl Parades, and, more recently, QVC.
A Word about Fruitcake
We’ll admit that we do not love fruitcake. And we’re not alone. Fruitcakes have been the butt of a thousand jokes. And yet, Claxton Bakery alone makes four million pounds a year. Four million pounds! That’s what? 200 or so fruitcakes? Somebody loves fruitcake.
People have loved fruitcake for centuries—maybe even millennia.
This fascinating Smithsonian Magazine article traces its roots to ancient Rome and says versions closer to what we eat today started appearing in the Middle Ages when people figured out how to dry fruits.
Part of the appeal is their long shelf life. Many fruitcakes keep for six months—a good deal longer if you refrigerate them.
From Georgia, With Love
Claxton Bakery was founded by an Italian immigrant named Savino Tos, whose U.S. career started in a Brooklyn hotel restaurant and included a stint at a Macon ice cream company. Road trips to Savannah and Tybee Island took Tos through Claxton, where he decided to relocate and open the town’s first bakery.
Seventeen years later, in 1910, an 11-year-old named Albert Parker marched into the bakery and asked for a job. He worked before and after school until he graduated, then came on full time. When Tos retired in 1945, Parker bought the bakery and took the business national, mass-producing fruitcakes.
In the 50s, a Civitan Club in Tampa asked him about using Claxton’s fruitcakes as a fundraising product. Now hundreds of organizations raise money each year selling the bakery’s fruitcakes.
Making four million pounds of fruitcake is quite an operation; each August, the factory adds about 100 seasonal staffers to handle the holiday demand.
If You Go
While the factory is not open for tours, there is a company store on Main Street where, in addition to fruitcakes, you can buy t-shirts and Georgia pecans. Regular hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but it was also open on a Saturday afternoon in December. We tried a slice of fruitcake, and yeah… it’s just not our thing. But the praline pecans? Jiminy Christmas, were they good!
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