Ever wonder how Fudge became a staple Up North?
Atlantic City is known for Saltwater Taffy, Maine for Lobster and New Orleans for Beignets. Many tourist areas have their own specialty that you have to try when you visit and take some home for later. Northern Michigan is known for many things, the views, pasties, the dunes, wine, craft beer, and so much more.
There is one common treat found in almost every town up north and that is fudge. You will find many local candy/fudge shops where you can watch the fudge being made, enjoy a sample, and buy creamy and delicious fudge.
Is Fudge a Noun or a Verb?
Many use the word fudge as a verb meaning “to fit together or adjust” and around 1800 the word was used to mean a cheat or a hoax. By mid-century “oh, fudge!” was often used as a kid friendly replaced for that 4-letter word. It is believed that the first batch of fudge came to be when someone in the 1880’s “fudged” up making caramels in Baltimore and the name stuck.
Fudge Comes to Northern Michigan
How did a sweet treat created in Baltimore find its way to northern Michigan? It is believed that father and son, Henry and Jerome “Rome” Murdick brought it to Mackinac Island. Henry and Rome were hired to make canvas awnings for the new hotel on the Island – The Grand Hotel. While there they decided to open a candy store in 1887 using Rome’s mother Sara’s family recipes from Germany.
The store was home to both Murdick’s Candy Kitchen and their workshop for making sails. Rome made candy in the front of the store using a marble table while Henry made sails in the back of the building. Rome would give demonstrations to visitors on how the fudge was made and visitors and residents flocked to the store to watch. Most of the people in the crowd would purchase candy before leaving the store.
Candy and a Show
Other candy stores on the Island started having their own demonstrations of candy making after seeing how much success Rome was having. As more stores followed Rome’s lead, fudge making became a public event and competitors find new ways to thrill their audience. Soon mixing ingredients in a kettle using a wooden paddle to stir it was exciting enough.
The more skilled would look for ways to mesmerize their audience. One of the favorites was to allow the hot fudge to almost drip off the side of the table. At the last minute grabbing their long-handled trowel and folding the candy back to the center of the table.
The store owners wanting to entice passersby into their store would put electric fans to send the aroma of chocolate out to the street. They were hoping to tempt folks to come to their store and walk out with fudge and other candies.
It did not take long for other candy makers to see the success on the Island and bring fudge and giving demonstrations on making fudge to their stores. You can find fudge at almost every candy store in northern Michigan. Everyone adds their personal style to the fudge making process and flavors. You will find most use local ingredients and have flavor combinations that are unique to their communities.
Good news is that Fudge will not melt!
Did you know that fudge will not melt? Many tourists hesitate buying slabs of fudge for fear it will melt in their hot cars. Why doesn’t it melt?
Fudge makers use heavy cream instead of butter and other ingredients not prone to melting. They will also slice the fudge while it is warm so that it forms an outer shell.
Fudge from Up North is shipped all over the world because of its stability. Because it does not melt it can be shipped to any country any time of the year. You can freeze fudge for up to a year in airtight packaging without losing any flavor.
Now that you know it will not melt, go ahead, and buy that extra slab and take it home for a treat on another day.