Say that three times fast! 😊
You probably know the basics about this decadent dessert: It is rich, it is creamy, and it comes in a variety of mouth-watering flavors. (Red velvet cake batter fudge? Yes please!) But there is plenty more fun trivia to digest. In honor of this Northern Michigan favorite, we are serving up the sweetest morsels.
THE MEANING OF FUDGE WAS CHANGED WHEN THE DESSERT WAS INVENTED
Fudge was a verb in the late 17th century. Its meaning was “to fit together or adjust clumsily.” The word changed meaning around 1800 and fudge was a hoax or cheat. The by the mid 1800’s “Oh, fudge!” became a kid-friendly term to use when you messed up something. Folklore suggests that the name for fudge was the result of someone trying to make caramels and fudged it up.
BALTIMORE PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN ITS ORIGIN
A story from 1921 is the earliest mention of fud. A former Vassar student, Emelyn Battersby Hartridge wrote a letter about discovering the treat. She claimed that when attending class in 1886 a classmate’s cousin that lived in Baltimore made the dessert. She said this was her first knowledge of it. Emelyn also spoke of a grocery store which sold fudge for 40 cents a pound.
EMELYN MAKES A BATCH FOR THE VASSAR SENIOR AUCTION
Battersby Hartridge was able to get ahold of a recipe for fudge a couple of years after discovering it. She made 30 pounds of it for the Vassar Senior Auction. The Alumnae/I Quarterly claimed the sweet became so favored that “students would make it in the middle of the night, dangerously divert the gas from their lamps for the task.”
MASS PRODUCED FUDGE TOOK A WHILE TO TAKE OFF
Skuse’s Complete Confectioner was known as a guide for all things dessert. Their first edition printed in the late 1800s did not mention fudge at all. In later editions as fudge became more popular that changed. They included recipes for rainbow fudge (using food colorings), Mexican fudge (raisins, nuts, and coconut), maple fudge and three types of chocolate fudge.
THE SCOTS HAD A SIMILAR TREAT
The Scots had tablet, it was a medium-hard confection that was grainy. Fudge is thought to be a descendent of tablet. Both use similar ingredients, but fudge is richer, softer and smoother than its European cousin.
CANADA HAS THE WORLD RECORD FOR THE LARGEST SLAB.
The Northwest Fudge Factory in Ontario Canada holds the record for the large slab of fudge. The 5,760-pound slab took a week to make in 2010. The slab had vanilla, chocolate, and maple flavors. This broke the record previously set by Lansing Community College culinary student in 2009. Their slab weighed 5,500 pounds.
FUDGE MAKING IS A SCIENCE
Early fudge recipes were hit or miss, one 1902 magazine said “fudge is one of the most difficult confections to make properly.” Candy thermometers were uncommon then and most recipes required boiling and hoping for the best. In time easier recipes were created that included corn syrup (which helps prevent the crystallization that can result in a gritty texture) and condensed milk or marshmallow crème.
FUDGE IS NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT FROM FONDANT
Fudge is the drier version of fondant. The found found in candies like peppermint patties and cordials not the fondant that is used for cake decorating.
MACKINAC ISLAND CONSIDERS ITSELF THE FUDGE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.
There are several fudge shops on Mackinac Island. The 4.35 square mile island has a permanent population just shy of 500. The oldest candy store, Murdicks candy kitchen open in 1887. May’s Candy claims to be the oldest fudge shop
DURING PEAK SEASON MORE THAN 10,000 POUNDS OF FUDGE IS MADE ON MACKINAC ISLAND DAILY!
For production, fudge makers ship in about 10 tons of sugar each week and roughly 10 tons of butter each year. Every August, the island hosts the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, complete with events like Fudge on the Rocks, where local bartenders craft fudge-y libations.
FIRST LADY MAMIE EISENHOWER WAS A HUGE FUDGE FAN.
The First Lady created her own recipe and named it Mamie’s Million-Dollar Fudge. It is reported that Ike like it quite a bit. Her recipe included marshmallow crème and chopped nuts.
THE HOT FUDGE SUNDAE WAS CREATED IN HOLLYWOOD.
C.C. Brown’s, an iconic ice cream parlor on Hollywood Boulevard, was credited for dreaming up the idea of drizzling melted fudge over ice cream in 1906 (earlier sundaes had other syrups, like cherry). In 1996 the shop closed but the treat remains popular.
THE BRITS HAD AN UNUSUAL NAME FOR FUDGE.
In the 1920 Harmsworth’s Household Encyclopedia a description of fudge is found. The descriptions call fudge a sweetmeat from America and that it is now popular in other countries. In the U.K. many sweets treats are referred to as sweetmeat.
RYBA FUDGE ON MACKINAC ISLAND OFFERED A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF FUDGE
Harry Ryba who was know as the fudge king on Mackinac Island once offered a lifetime supply of fudge for an upfront payment of $2,250. The lifetime supply would be 3 pounds a month and a lifetime was was his life or the buyers. The New York Times reported that he said “A lifetime, being yours or mine, whichever ends sooner. He passed away at the age of 88.
FUDGE CAN KEEP FOR A LONG TIME.
Fudge can be frozen and stored in airtight containers for up to a year without losing any flavor. So go ahead and buy a few extra pounds while in Northern Michigan and enjoy at home until your next visit.
Favorite for locals and tourists
Fudge is a staple for locals and tourists in Northern Michigan. Kids that move away for college or jobs are always delighted to receive a package from their favorite fudge shop signed with love, Mom. Families that vacation in Northern Michigan are quick to pick some up. No other fudge can compare to fudge from Northern Michigan.
To find out how Fudge became such a hit in Northern Michigan check out an earlier article “Don’t Forget The Fudge!” that we wrote.