Celia Aniskovich found much more than she expected when she dove deep into the $17 million embezzlement scandal that threatened to take down the fruitcake empire built by Corsicana, Texas-based Collin Street Bakery. The Fruitcake Fraud filmmaker opened up about her true crime documentary ahead of its premiere Wednesday on discovery+, telling PopCulture.com exclusively people "are not prepared for just how zany it gets."
The scandal first made headlines in 2013, when company controller Sandy Jenkins was discovered to have embezzled $17 million to fund a lavish lifestyle for him and his wife. In 2015, Jenkins was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and in 2019, he died by suicide behind bars. Despite becoming a part of local lore, Aniskovich said she wasn't initially familiar with the bakery and its story, but when she first began looking into it, she thought, "There's no way. There's no way this story could be true."
"I get why the reaction is 'How could you not know $17 million goes missing,'" she continued to PopCulture, explaining that the bakery in North Texas was "run like family" with the trust that all its employees were looking after each other and the business with that same kind of care. "They almost didn't care about the money," Aniskovich explained. "They almost cared more about what stealing the money meant. ...That sense of betrayal is hard to quantify."
While the word "fruitcake" may conjure up smiles and even a chuckle, the filmmaker learned by interviewing the people involved how "fresh" the scars from the scandal truly are. "I wasn't expecting tears in a story like this, but we got tears," she said. "It was devastating."
It was important for Aniskovich to bring that deeper meaning to the documentary and the "sense of community belonging" that permeates the bakery. "Quite frankly, there's a lot of heart in this film on all sides," she said, adding, "It's a little bit of the American dream that doesn't really exist anymore."
While there are "real dark moments" in the film as Aniskovich dives into the Jenkins' stolen lifestyle and the scandal that almost took down Collin Street Bakery, there are "real messages of hope" as well that's perfect for the holidays. "It's a story and a group of people you want to rally around," she shared. Fruitcake Fraud premieres Wednesday, Dec. 1 on discovery+.