Ozarks Life: ‘Tis the season for C of O fruitcake!

College of the Ozarks has been making this seasonal treat since 1933.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 5:14 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. (KY3) - If you’re on a tour of College of the Ozarks, whether it’s the Keeter Center, Edwards Mill, or the Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Christmas is everywhere.

And at these locations, you can take a little bit of Christmas with you as a gift from C of O.

Off of the campus tour, tucked away in a building, thousands of fruitcakes and fruit spreads are being made.

“Busy is kind of an understatement,” College of the Ozarks Director of Retail Operations Kiley Hutcheson said.

Students are scrambling like Santa’s Elves to make sure all of the orders are filled.

“Next year, we are hitting our 90th anniversary of fruitcake production,” Hutcheson said.

It’s a smushed-up mixture of candied fruit, egg whites, and cake batter with pecans and candied fruit on top. Annually, between 10,000 and 13,000 College of the Ozarks’ fruitcakes are made.

“During Thanksgiving break, we actually shipped out over 6,000 fruitcakes,” Hutcheson said.

That’s a lot of loaves for a dessert that doesn’t always get a sweet reception. The joke is for some, it’s synonymous with door-stops, boat anchors, and re-gifting to people you don’t like. But for others - Christmas just wouldn’t be the same.

“Because their mom or their grandmother or their great-grandmother purchased it, they continue that legacy with us,” Hutcheson said.

But as popular as they are, the C of O fruit spreads are nipping at the “heels” of those loaves. This year, Kiley anticipates 90,000 jars will be filled. Apple Butter is the college’s best seller.

“You really can’t go wrong with something that is kind of ‘this’ area,” Hutcheson said.

Six years ago the college created a catalog and an online store. It showcases all of the College of the Ozarks’ perishable goods. With love from the Ozarks to the worldwide market.

“We have officially shipped to all the states,” Hutcheson said, “we ship internationally. Already this season we’ve shipped to the United Kingdom, to Japan, and then Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Mariana Islands

It’s definitely a recipe for financial success - both now and then.

Eighty-nine years ago, the C of O fruitcake started with home economics teacher, Annabelle McMaster. She made six in a kerosene oven. She was hoping to raise enough money for the college to buy one of those “new” electric ovens.

And her unique gift is now a sweet, seasonal staple at C of O. Her recipe hasn’t changed much since 1933... at least that’s what everyone has been told.

“I just have not been able to see that,” Hutcheson joked about seeing any original paper copy of the recipe. “I’m sure there’s some secret vault we keep it in but I have not seen that.”

Between 60 and 70 students make and ship out those fruitcakes at Hard Work U.

If you’re thinking about sending one of those fruitcakes or fruit spreads, we’re told to get that order in before December 14 so it can make it in time for Christmas. Click here to visit the college’s online store.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com