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Lee William McNutt II born in Corsicana, Texas; (1925 — September 1, 2006), used direct marketing and mail order to transform his family's Collin Street Bakery into a worldwide supplier of fruitcakes. Although he did not invent the fruitcake, Bill McNutt’s claim to culinary fame is having made the cake ubiquitous. Along the way he managed to reinvigorate the mail order business introducing computerized mailing lists, direct consumer marketing and efficient shipping methods. All this back in 1958.

McNutt's father, Lee William McNutt, and an uncle, Bob Rutherford, bought the Collin Street Bakery in 1946. The younger McNutt began working for the company in 1958 and immediately shifted the company's focus to mail order sales of the specialty DeLuxe Fruitcake.

He was quick to recognize the value of emerging technologies and was an early adopter of phone, fax and then Internet ordering systems. Initially, bakery employees copied names and addresses of prospective customers from telephone directories gathered from throughout the United States. McNutt compiled the bakery's customer list into a database that was later computerized. He also began a direct marketing campaign outside the United States. Today the bakery ships its fruitcake to 196 countries. Through his efforts he blazed a mail order path that many companies from Lands' End to Amazon.com have emulated.

McNutt served as president of the Collin Street Bakery from 1967 until 1998, when Bob McNutt succeeded his father as president of the company.

Biography

Shortly after his birth in Corsicana, McNutt's family moved to Nashville, Tennessee. McNutt attended Vanderbilt University and played on the football team.

His studies were interrupted by World War II. He served in the U.S. Army at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, where he guarded German prisoners of war.

After the war he resumed studies at Vanderbilt, graduating in 1949 with a degree in business. He later earned a master's degree at Southern Methodist University.

Prior to the Collin Street Bakery, McNutt worked in his father's Dr Pepper bottling franchise in Tennessee.

McNutt was an avid football fan and became friends with Lamar Hunt, owner of the Dallas Texans and co-founder of the American Football League. McNutt and Hunt owned the Dallas Tornado franchise in the North American Soccer League in the 1970s. Hunt later became a minority partner in the Collin Street Bakery.

McNutt is the father to Bill McNutt III, Bob McNutt, Melanie McNutt and Katherine McNutt.

McNutt died at his home in Corsicana. His death was attributed to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

References

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