In 1910, the townspeople of the small South Georgia community
of Claxton saw a new business open its doors. The tempting aroma of freshly-baked
bread and sweet rolls served as an irresistible invitation to visit the
The bakery opened under the ownership of Savino Tos, an
Italian pastry-maker, who immigrated to the United States in the early-1900's.
Tos initially settled in New York City, working in a Brooklyn hotel as
a master baker. During his first few years on American soil, Tos was fascinated
with life in the bustling city. It provided a sense of excitement and
a steady income, but as time passed, the talented baker longed for a quieter
lifestyle. Faced with the opportunity to move from New York, he accepted
a job in Macon, Georgia, with a company making ice cream. The young Italian
instantly fell in love with the South. He frequently visited Savannah
and Tybee Island on Georgia's pristine coast. On one of his trips to Savannah,
he passed through the town of Claxton, a developing agricultural community.
Tos was attracted by the friendliness of the people and especially liked
the fact that the town was without a bakery. When the ice cream operation
in Macon fell upon hard times and eventually melted, Tos decided to make
Claxton his new home.
The Claxton Bakery was an instant success
with the townsfolk, who flocked to the small shop for delicious baked
goods and homemade ice cream. During the fall, Tos decided to capture
the spirit of the holiday season by offering a premium quality fruit cake,
filled with nature's finest fruits and nuts.
In 1927, a sandy-haired, eleven year-old
lad walked through the white-washed doors of the bakery and asked Tos
for a job. The youngster offered a wide grin as the owner tossed him an
apron and pointed out a list of chores. Within a few days, Savino Tos
sensed that Albert Parker would be a valuable employee. Albert hustled
to the bakery each morning before daybreak and fired the large oven for
the day's baking. He helped prepare the dough and completed other tasks
before heading for school. After classes, the youngster took little time
in covering the half-dozen blocks back to the bakery, where he grabbed
his apron and worked until dark.
In 1945, Savino Tos decided to retire from
the bakery and devote his time to other business interests. Having fostered
a trusting relationship with young Albert Parker through the years, Tos
sold the Claxton Bakery to his long-time employee.
After Albert Parker's acquisition of the
bakery, he began to search for other means of growth. During the mid-1940's,
in the era following World War II, Parker recognized that many traditional
bakery items were suddenly being marketed in businesses other than bakeries.
Racks filled with fresh loaves of bread appeared in grocery stores. Refrigerated
cases containing ice cream and soft drinks were beginning to be commonly
found in service stations. These revelations led Albert Parker to make
a bold decision. His bakery would specialize in high quality fruit cake,
a product of unique originality enjoyed by the townspeople during the
fall holiday season.
In his first year of mass production, Parker
and a handful of workers baked forty-five thousand pounds of Claxton Fruit
Cake. The new owner worked diligently in his efforts to develop sales
and distribution for his cakes. As the number of sales outlets increased,
Parker's operations expanded. People from all parts of the country began
to talk about "those delicious fruit cakes with the unique horse and buggy
In the early-1950's, Parker was visited by
a representative of the Civitan Club of Tampa, Florida. The civic club
was in search of a fund-raising item, and Claxton Fruit Cake seemed to
be the perfect choice. As a result of their initial success selling Claxton
Fruit Cakes as a fund-raiser, the Tampa Civitans spread the word to their
colleagues in other clubs. As each year passed, more and more groups discovered
the sales appeal of Albert Parker's famous fruit cakes.
Today, the Claxton Bakery, Inc. services
the fund-raising needs of over one-thousand organizations throughout North
America. Claxton Fruit Cakes are also available through many national
chains during the holiday season.
Albert Parker continued his operation of
Claxton Bakery, Inc., until his passing on May 21, 1995. The bakery is
presently managed by Parker's three sons, Mid, Paul and Dale, and his
daughter, Betty. The company's hallmarks of quality, value and service
continue to guide the Parker family's commitment to their customers around
Did you know?
In 1964 and 1965, Claxton Fruit Cake took the
world stage with an exhibit at the New York World?ÇÖs Fair where people
from all over the globe sampled the delicacy. The World?ÇÖs Fair exposure
earned the company many new customers and opened the door for expanded
sales opportunities. Albert Parker took advantage of other innovative
ways to market his unique product, such as sponsoring elaborate floats
in the nationally-televised Orange Bowl Jamboree Parades in Miami, Florida,
and the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C.