Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 6 News List

US fruitcakes take Afghanistan by storm, military says


Claxton fruitcakes have now contributed to world peace, or at least they've made Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Bramhall of Spartanburg a popular American in Afghanistan.

Bramhall is commander of a unit of 300 soldiers from all branches of the military who are there to train and mentor the 3rd Brigade of the Afghan National Army.

The Americans train the Afghans to use tanks and armored fighting vehicles.

Bramhall left for Afghanistan before the height of fruitcake season in the South. So his mother-in-law mailed two Claxton fruitcakes to her son-in-law's compound outside of Kabul.

The US commander shared his "Southern delicacy" during teatime with an Afghan general, who devoured it and demanded to know which "secret" bakery in Kabul baked the cakes, because his people had never had such a delicacy.

Bramhall gave him his second cake and promised more.

He called home and told his wife to please send more fruitcakes.

It was January. Christmas was long gone. But his wife, Faith, went from grocery store to grocery store in search of more.

"There just were no more fruitcakes in this town," she said.

Then a Bi-Lo grocery store manager told her to check with the Civitans, who traditionally stock stores with Claxton fruitcakes to raise money for the service club. Faith called Sandy Sanders, a longtime Civitan, and asked for 5kg of cakes.

Then Sanders called to say he had been to the warehouse and could send at least 10kg.

"Later, he called and said, `What about 25kg?'"

He called again and upped it to 50kg.

In the end, Sanders and the Civitans mailed 70kg of fruitcake -- or six cases -- to Bramhall in Afghanistan.

"The delivery caused riots, fights," because everyone wanted some, Bramhall said.

Bramhall has since e-mailed Claxton to let them know that their fruitcakes have been part of the "peace-keeping" effort in Afghanistan.

Dale Parker, the vice president of Claxton Bakery Inc in Claxton, Georgia, said he got the e-mail and was surprised and pleased to see that the fruitcakes were contributing to his country's effort.

"I bet he'd be a good fruitcake salesman. Maybe he could be our Afghanistan representative," Parker joked.

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