Skip to comments.Monks hope consumer cutbacks donít include fruitcake
Posted on 12/03/2008 10:11:41 AM PST by NYer
They're delaying their purchase of a new car. They're thinking twice before dining out. But you know the economy is tough when consumers are even reducing their purchases of that Christmas staple: the fruitcake.
Monasteries and abbeys across the United States -- where fruitcake baking is the traditional work of Trappist monks -- are reporting a modest dip in sales. In some cases, the number of orders are about the same, but their dollar amounts have been trimmed.
"We're right along with everybody else," said the Rev. Richard Layton, business manager of Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Lafayette, Ore. "Economic decline isn't just happening in our monastery. Everybody's feeling the pinch."
His Trappist monastery, where monks age 31 to 93 spend part of their days in prayer and part working onsite, has felt the economic woes in some of its industries, particularly its forestry business. With people not buying houses, wood sales are down; and their book bindery is suffering, too. But continued interest in their wine warehouse and bakery is helping pick up the slack, Layton said.
Some of the monastery's retail customers -- such as one that ordered $50,000 worth of fruitcake -- find sales are going just fine. But other smaller retailers have cut orders in half.
At Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va., bakery manager Ernie Polanskas said orders of Christmas fruitcakes as well as sales of creamed honey and chocolate truffles seem to be on par with last year.
"We have heard from some (customers), because of the economy they've cut back as far as orders," he said of the abbey where the bakery is the primary means of financial support for its 23 monks. "Basically we'll get through this and, God's will, whatever happens we'll make the best of it."
Brother Paul Richards, one of the bakery managers at Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, N.Y., said call-in orders for their fruitcakes and whiskey cakes are similar to last year, but online sales at their Web site have doubled since last year.
"We're just bracing ourselves for Christmas," he said of the monks, who spend three-hour shifts in a bakery that produces white and whole wheat bread in addition to cakes and brownies. "We're a monastery first and then a bakery. Sometimes the bakery can start taking over and we have to try to keep a balance here. After Christmas, we kind of recoup."
With a new marketing campaign, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Ga., had expected to far exceed sales from previous years, but the 42 monks there were content with orders for Christmas being up 8 percent by late November.
"The positive is we're not seeing the reduction that many others are, but we are not seeing the gain that we were hoping for," said Jim Burnham, business manager at the monastery. "What I'm more concerned with isn't the number of orders," he said. "But the dollars per order are down a little bit. I think people are being a little bit more cautious."
But Burnham said the monks are more worried about the economy's effect beyond their monastery east of Atlanta.
"I think they're less concerned for themselves and the impact of their program than they are for just the overall impact, ... what it's going to mean for the average guy on the street," he said.
While some monasteries are finding the bakery business is so far, so good, this year, they wonder what will happen next Christmas.
"We're doing fairly well this year," said Michael Hampton, shipping manager at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Mo. "We don't know how we'll do next year."
The current support reflects some people sticking with their tradition of ordering the two-pound fruitcake from the remote abbey in the Ozarks, and cutting back elsewhere, he said.
"I've heard a few comments like that, how people made some cuts here and there but they weren't going to go without their fruitcake," he said.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey - Lafayette OR
Holy Cross Abbey - Berryville, VA
Abbey of the Genessee - Piffard NY
I *LOVE* fruitcake but can only have a small slice.
This is a bit odd — fruitcake ain’t that expensive and IMHO people want to have traditional things around when times are tough.
I am having a rough diverticulitis attack right now. Had to miss thanksgiving dinner, and am sipping fluids right now.
I LOVE fruitcake. People love to make jokes about it, but all that fruit and nuts and heavy sugar and liquor - What is not to like?
Sorry brothers, I have never ever bought a fruitcake ... and I never will.
Switch to rumcake and I’m in!
Your eloquence in support of the yuletide treat is music to my taste-buds.
Are there obstacles preventing American Trappists from brewing the kinds of beers they are famous for in Europe?
You can soak your fruitcake in rum or bourbon. Leave it in the wrapper with the top open, pour a shot or two over it, and let it sit for an hour or so. Fantastic!
You mean there really is more than one fruit cake?
Claxton fruitcake was a tradition in my house growing up.
It killed me when fruitcake started to become a joke to some people. It damaged the economy in Claxton GA and made Claxton fruitcakes hard to find.
We need a good Trappist brewery in this country.
That’s what I was thinking. Where is the American Orval, Chimay or Achel? Not that the fruitcake isn’t good but beer is proof that God loves us.
I don’t think I’ve ever even tasted a fruitcake.
I shall have to place a few orders. I actually like fruitcake.
I love Belgian beer! You are absolutely right. We need a good Trappist brewery. On Wikipedia, it says there are only seven (out of 171) Trappist abbeys that are permitted to brew beer. Six are in Belgium and one in Holland.
That's a good question! I have heard about the famous brew from one european monastery that is in limited (hence, much desired) supply. But I am not aware of any US abbeys that brew beer. One of the above abbeys bottles wine (the NY abbey?).
I've never found a fruitcake that wasn't hard.....
What are those green things in the fruit cake??
The Abbey of the Genessee may well have what you're looking for. One of their products is a Rum pound cake.
plenty in the Senate.
I love Claxton Fruitcake. My parents took me to the factory when I was a kid - hooked ever since.....C
I’ve heard that theory -
there’s really only one fruitcake in the entire world,
and people just keep passing it around as a “gift”.
I don’t know. I pick them out and throw them away............
There’s a Trappist monastery 15 minutes from my home. A couple of years ago the PETA freaks did an “undercover sting” concerning the monks treatment of the chickens that the monks raise for eggs. The monastery decided not to defend themselves and stopped with the egg production.
Now they’re going to produce...mushrooms. Blech!
Thanks for the addresses. I LOVE a good fruitcake. I mean, uh, not the kind you elect or see in a pride parade.
As a child fruitcake was the only bad memory I have of Christmas. I thought they would have quarantined the stuff as a bio-terrorist threat.
I have sampled the ones in Holland. Quite good.
That is the ONLY fruitcake brand in the Universe that is worth eating.
My sister thinks that the ‘Georgia Fruitcake’ brand is better, but, she has been known to be wrong. Georgia Fruitcakes are also baked in Claxton.
Claxton IS the fruitcake capitol of the World.
They are quite easy to find if you live down here in the south.
I see them in gas stations even.
try the website http://www.claxtonfruitcake.com/index.php
And here I thought it was San Fransicko..............
More to the point:
Consumers hope monks dont include fruitcakes.
I’ve been there........Claxton, GA that is.....
I been there.........
Look at the ingredients on Claxton fruitcakes sometime. Typical synthetic cost cutting stuff. Where's the real butter? Real sugar? I'll stay away, thank you...
The best are still made by the Trappists, particularly one I tried that was made in -- Texas.
Anyone know the one I'm taking about?
Anyway, as a kid I *hated* fruitcake, now I pine for it 11 months out of the year (but by family honored tradition can't indulge ;)
I love fruitcake too. My wife refuses to have one in the house. I am going to smuggle one in this year and hide it underneath the paint cans in the garage.
I going to go rogue this Christmas!
Ha! And all this time, I thought it was San Francisco...:)
Cherries aren’t supposed to be “green”............
It was so bad they couldn't get a scope past it (they thought it was colon cancer) rushed me to the hospital and the next morning I was in an operating room opened up from above my belly button to my groin!
Not a trace of cancer but they removed scar tissue as big as my fist. I am just now recovering to the point I can do work around the yard. Still no heavy lifting.
These are not 'green' as in unripe, just regular red cherries dyed green.
This thread reminds me that I have a wonderful Danish fruitcake recipe my Mom gave me....haven't made it in years.
Yes...but they are just rentals and sent back to their respective monasteries after Christmas.
There they are cleaned, dusted [and in rare cases, patched if a piece should happen to be missing] and boxed for next year....
I bet you didn’t think this thread would be so fun!!
Here is one that is the best.....
Deluxe Fruitcake!! Can’t wait.
I think the fruitcake jokes were just the start of the whole "anti-Christmas PC thing" that's been permeating our society for the past couple of decades.
Well, you know, with fruitcake you either love it or hate I guess.