Making Christmas easy

Sunday, December 15, 2002

By the time Santa is resting his tootsies the day after his long night, My Daddy's Cheesecake in Cape Girardeau will have shipped 2,000 of their desserts to every state in the country.

Last Monday alone, Esicar's Old Hickory Smokehouse shipped 400 packages of their specially cured or smoked hams, bacon and sausage. By the time the holiday season is over, they will have sold 1,700 hams and 3,000 slabs of bacon, more than two-thirds of which will be sent via UPS.

At the Meat Shop, the owners say their popular smoked turkeys will also be flying off the shelves with the help of special deliveries that take the gift birds from their shop in Cape Girardeau to their recipients all over the world.

"When it hits, there's not much you can do about it," said Blake Esicar, who works at the family-owned Esicar's, which has been delivering smoked meat since the shop opened in 1934. "There's so much business at Christmastime, we do as much business now as we do all year."

On Thursday, Esicar and his uncle were busy wrapping the meat and piling it in carts, readying it for the UPS man, who makes two trips on Monday to the store and once a day the rest of the week, when they ship about 100 packages each day.

One worked the phone while the other pulled faxed orders off the machine from the Philippines to Mississippi.

"We don't advertise," Esicar said. "It's just word-of-mouth. We'll ship it to anyplace that it can get through customs. A lot of people think what we have makes a different sort of gift. A lot of big companies also send out hams and bacon as gifts to clients or employees."

The biggest day for shipments may be this upcoming Monday, Esicar said.

"People want these to get there by Christmas," he said.

My Daddy's Cheesecake ships its 30 different flavors of cheesecake to all 50 states and has for the past five Christmases, said owner Wes Kinsey.

"It's the busiest month by far," he said. "Our average day is 12 to 14 hours, that's pretty typical. Yesterday, we were here from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. and that's about the way it runs. It's about three weeks of utter chaos."

But Kinsey isn't complaining.

"It's a great level of chaos," he said. "It's fun and it's exciting. We're moving a lot of product and that's what we're here for."

My Daddy's Cheesecake has an Internet site and also is listed in catalogs among other Missouri-made products.

At the Meat Shop, things aren't going as well as last year, said owner Bob Osborn.

"It's hard to estimate right now, but we're probably down by a third," he said. "I guess it's the economy."

'They take care of the rest'

Even so, people are still ordering hams, steaks and their most popular product -- smoked turkeys.

"We get orders from all over the U.S.," he said. "It's sort of different. They come from California or someplace and want something from Missouri or something they can't get in California. That makes a good gift."

The Hawthorn Group, which has an office in Cape Girardeau but is based in St. Louis, sends out 100 items from Esicar's to its clients, said executive assistant Chris Heath.

"It's not the same old thing," she said. "Esicar's is something that's from Cape, and it's different. It shows we put some thought into it, and it's better than a box of candy. The folks at Esicar's are also wonderful to deal with. We send them a list of addresses, the cards and they take care of the rest. It makes Christmas easy."

335-6611, extension 137

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