Amy Kittrell of Gin Bay Road in Cameron didn't always like fruitcake, even though her mom is Sylvia Hiers of Springfield, the ultimate defender of fruitcake.

Amy said when she was a kid, she didn't like the large chunks of candied fruit in her mom's fruitcake so she would pick them out, hide them in a napkin, eat the rest of the cake and later dispose of the unwanted candied fruit in the trash.

Being Sylvia's daughter, it's no surprise that Amy developed an appreciation for fruitcake as an adult.

"I had always thought only old people ate fruitcake," she said.

Amy tried her hand at baking her own fruitcake in later years, altering her mom's recipe somewhat, including using only candied cherries and pineapple and cutting it into much smaller pieces and adding walnuts in addition to pecans, along with coconut.

She was encouraged when her son, Saylor, really liked her fruitcake and began helping her make them.

"A lot of young people think it's old people food. They need to try it," Amy said.

"I don't want fruitcake to become a lost tradition," she added.

In her kitchen Thursday afternoon, Amy got busy passing on that tradition to Jami Fair and Lila Summers, ages 4 and 8, respectively. Accompanying the girls were their brother, Austin, 10, and their mother, Karen Summers, Amy's good friend.

Jami Fair, wearing a colorful apron with accompanying oven mitt, and Lila pulled up stools so they could reach the stove top to help "Miss Amy" bake fruitcakes. Before long, they were pouring and mixing and stirring and cracking, while buddies Saylor and Austin went outside to collect eggs from the Kittrells' chickens to contribute to the fruitcake. Saylor had already gathered the pecans for the cake at grandma Sylvia's on Sunday.

In no time flat, the kitchen crew had several small loaf pans of fruitcake in the oven baking, but Amy wasn't going to wait for them to get done. She pulled out a foil-wrapped fruitcake she had taken out from the freezer earlier and thawed and let everyone sample the tasty confection. Even Karen, who admitted fruitcake isn't her favorite dessert, accepted a piece.

"People trash talk fruitcake," Amy said. "I made Karen try it last year, and she liked it."

"I would eat Amy's fruitcake before I'd eat anybody else's," Karen said, smiling.

Amy added triumphantly, "It's funny how so many people do like fruitcake."

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