Frost is not uncommon in northern Michigan this time of year. But there is one kitchen that knows the recipe for warming up. Original Murdick’s Fudge has been in business since 1887 when it first opened its doors on Mackinac Island, Michigan.
“Fudge is Mackinac Island, synonymous with Mackinac Island,” said owner Bob Benser. “Sometimes in the morning I put a piece of fudge in my coffee, a piece of double chocolate fudge. You get a sugary, creamy, mocha-like flavor!”
Mackinac Island, located between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, is the self-proclaimed “Fudge Capital of America.” The car-free oasis has more than a dozen fudge shops. In the summer, the island is visited by tourists who love fudge (it is affectionately called “fudge”).
To meet the demand, each store can make up to five hundred pounds a day!
But even as temperatures and tourism drop, fudge remains a popular staple.
Sally said: “Fudge seems like a natural option for Valentine’s Day.”
“We all love chocolate on Valentine’s Day, right?” Benser said. “So why don’t you have some lipstick?”
This appetite for fondant dates back more than a century.
Culinary historian Joyce White says fudge is based on a very similar chocolate caramel recipe. “What probably happened is that there was somebody in Baltimore who screwed it up or ‘faked it,'” she said. “Fadge is a word that means you messed up. I exhausted it or me invented this. Nowadays, we use a different F-word to say that, right?”
By 1888, this Baltimore recipe was passed down to students at Vassar College (then all women) in Poughkeepsie, New York. “Women were making fudge in their dorms,” White said, “doing something against the rules, late at night and trying to get away with something that doesn’t condone the rules.”
“And at the same time men in men’s colleges played?” Sully asked.
“It was a woman’s way of rebelling,” White said. “Cooking in the dorm at night! Breaking all the rules, in a way that was still considered feminine.’
Soon, the so-called “Vassar hoax” found its way to other women’s colleges and even made headlines across the country.
Fast forward a century, and the fudge recipe hasn’t changed much: sugar, milk, butter, and chocolate are mixed together, poured onto a marble slab, and then “worked” until the mixture sets.
At the Original Murdick’s St. factory. Ignace veteran fudge maker Cornell Samuels turns the 45-minute process into a 30-pound loaf of fudge.
Making fudge is certainly harder than it looks, but if her story has taught us anything, it’s that mistakes can be sweet anyway.
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The plot was prepared by Sarah Kugel. Editor: George Pazderets.