In 1910, Italian immigrant and pastry maker Savino Tos opened a bakery in the small southeast Georgia town of Claxton. Townspeople flocked there for homemade ice cream and baked goods, particularly Tos’s specialty fruitcakes—pound cake mixed with sun-ripened raisins, Georgia pecans, candied pineapple, and other fruits and nuts—which he offered each fall for the holidays. In 1945, Albert Parker bought the Claxton Bakery and began mass-producing the popular fruitcakes. Soon, people across the country were familiar with the seasonal treat.
- During its first year of mass production in the late 1940s, the bakery produced more than 45 thousand pounds of fruitcake. Today, it whips up four million pounds of fall orders.
- In 1948, a second fruitcake operation, Georgia Fruitcake Company, opened its doors in Claxton, cementing the town as the “Fruitcake Capital of the World.”
- In 1964, Claxton Fruit Cake took the global stage as an exhibitor at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Other notable draws included “Bel-Gem” waffles sold at the Belgian Village as well as the first incarnation of Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride.
- During the 1960s and seventies, Claxton girls rode fruitcake floats in the nationally televised parades for the Orange Bowl, Cherry Blossom Festival, and Gasparilla Festival.
- What are those festive-colored things in fruitcake? They’re for show. Claxton dyes candied pineapple green and red for the holiday season.
- Only the good die young—except, perhaps, fruitcakes. Without refrigeration, the resilient dessert lasts four months, making it possible for diehard fans to hoard their Christmas cakes until Easter dinner.
- Claxton Bakery ships fruitcakes to all fifty states and to countries around the globe. But for true fanatics who want to get their goodies at the source, the bakery operates a storefront in Claxton.
- Fruitcake isn’t Claxton’s only claim to fame. In March, the town will welcome an estimated 15,000 visitors to the 49th annual Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival, complete with snake-handling demonstrations.