Nanny State

A Law That's Nutty Like a Fruitcake


Mr. Melton, I disapprove of what you bake, but I will defend to the death your right to bake (and sell) it.*

Shasta County health officials are cracking down on an 86-year-old disabled World War II veteran who has been selling homemade fruitcakes for more than a decade.

The Department of Environmental Health cites an obscure law banning food businesses in private homes.

Jack Melton of Redding gave away many of his pecan-filled fruitcakes. But health officials saw a small handmade window sign offering some for sale.

Health specialist Fern Hastings says Melton must use a commercial bakery that has passed a health inspection even if he gives his cakes to the public.

Melton says the 10- to 14-dozen fruitcakes he sold each year helped supplement his Social Security benefits.

* Fun fact: The orginial formulation of the phrase was not really Voltaire's, but a snappier paraphrase of his thoughts by his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall.