BY CINDY A. JONES
In April 1957, a volunteer group of ambitious North Ogden women decided they wanted to improve public places, like parks and cemeteries, in North Ogden, and the North Ogden Civic League was born.
That November, just in time for the holidays, the women decided to make traditional Holiday Plum Pudding to sell as a fundraiser. The pudding, a dish dating back to the Victorian era, was moist and cake-like, accented with fruit, nuts, and spices. That season, the women made and canned 50 cans of pudding in President Peg Fjeldstead’s garage. Each of the group’s members sold them to family, friends, and neighbors, and the fundraiser was deemed a success.
What none of the members realized was that, in the next two years, the demand for North Ogden Civic League’s popular Plum Pudding would grow exponentially. LaVern Cottrell, who was in her 20s when her mother was part of the Civic League, says that the group began to have pre-orders for the pudding months in advance. By 1959, just two years after the group came together, the women were producing around 500 cans each holiday season. They made the pudding in Peg Fjelstead’s husband’s work room, with baking ovens all over her house.
In the next decade, pudding orders would grow into the thousands. Having started out under $1.00 a can, the pudding was now going for a whopping $2.75 a can. The group was producing about 1500 cans every season, and by the mid 1960s, the pudding project was the group’s main fundraiser. By 1973, the pudding production was such a booming success that the group moved its cooking and canning operations to the LDS Bishop’s Storehouse on 17th Street in Ogden.
Civic League member Evelyn Taylor designed the first label for the pudding cans, and Holly Fuller, who was just a little girl during the early pudding years, remembers when the children at North Ogden Elementary were asked to color the labels before they were affixed to the cans. Later on, a new design was created and printed in color. Holly also remembers the recipe for butterscotch sauce on the back of the labels that her mother made every year.
The pudding operations went on well into the 1990s, and even after the group was forced to move their yearly operations to Franklin, Idaho, due to changing Utah food-handling laws, North Ogden’s Civic League Plum Pudding continued to be a wildly popular treat and a fundraising boon. Among other improvements to the city, the pudding fundraiser helped to build the city’s first swimming pool.
Sadly, the North Ogden Civic League disbanded in May of 2021, but their efforts have left a trail of improvements throughout North Ogden in its 64 years. The Civic League Plum Pudding is a memory still savored by the community.