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But beyond that, she simply hopes to do her part in reversing the tide of fruitcake bashing that’s become common in America. As the site’s About page makes clear: “This is a disparaging-fruitcake-comment-free zone.” Made from an old-world recipe of spices, nuts and fruit, "this is not your grandma's fruitcake," advises the Date Lady. Fortunately for Kyrk and people like her, there’s good news to report on the fruitcake front. After decades of suffering slights of every description, the fruitcake industry is seeing not only vigorous sales, new brands and an increasing interest on the part of younger consumers, it actually seems to be getting something fruitcake-makers aren’t always used to—respect. “I’ve been surprised to hear from people who don’t have a history of fruitcake consumption that they’ve bought one recently,” says Valerie Neff-Rasmussen, marketing specialist for online gourmet shop Zingerman’s. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based family business estimates it will sell 880 fruitcakes this year—a seemingly modest number until you consider that these are cakes individually baked by California epicurean Robert Lambert, and they start at $70. In fact, fruitcakes at Zingerman’s have been selling out for the past few years, Neff-Rasmussen says, but “I don’t think they’ve ever sold out as early as they did this year.” Business is also very good at the Date Lady, a site that sells homemade date-based sauces, caramels and syrups. Seeking to “make a fruitcake that would change people’s perceptions,” founder Colleen Sundlie added the item to her offerings two years ago and since then, she says, “we have easily doubled our sales, [and] we’re doing absolutely no paid marketing at all.” This is also a good fruitcake year for long-established brands. Harry & David, a food-and-gift retailer founded over a century ago, says it will sell well north of 100,000 fruitcakes this year. And Claxton Fruitcake, a family-owned bakery in continuous operation since 1910, reports that orders are up for 2017, driven in part by a new offering: chocolate-covered fruitcake nuggets.
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