Oh, Fudge!

Children are enthralled as they watch workers make fudge in one of Murdick’s Fudge Shops on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

“The perfect candle scent for Mackinac Island would be a layer of fudge-scented wax, then a layer of lilac, then at the bottom a layer of horse manure,” joked Joe, one of our carriage drivers on our recent (and first) trip to Mackinac Island, a beautiful island in Lake Huron just between Michigan’s Upper and Lower penisulas.

Unfortunately, we just missed lilac season, but we did see plenty of fudge shops and horses, when my husband and I visited in late June.   There are more than a hundred varieties of the Common Lilac on Mackinac Island, which celebrates lilacs with a 10-day festival every mid-June, which concludes with a horse-drawn lilac parade.  I’d love to return for that event.

Even though no cars, trucks or other motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, there’s a lot of traffic with horse-drawn carriages, people on horseback as well as hundreds of bicyclists and thousands of walkers.  (The island does allow one police car, one ambulance and some electric golf carts on the golf course.)

Here are some of the fudge flavors available at Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Butter Pecan, Plain Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Walnut.

Six fudge companies operate fudge shops on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Since each company seems to have at least two shops and some operate even more, that’s a lot of fudge on this small island. There are competing fudge shops next door to each other and some companies have opened fudge shops on opposite sides of the street — sort of like Starbucks Coffee. But, honestly, can you ever have enough fudge? There are as many as 15,000 tourists a day in peak season, so there is an enormous market for fudge. I bought fudge at Murdick’s Fudge. The Murdick Family opened its fudge shop in 1887, when sailmakers Henry and Rome Murdick came to Mackinac Island to make giant awnings for The Grand Hotel (the hotel was constructed in only 93 days!)

I bought the fudge for a gift, but I’m hoping the recipients will offer me a taste. (Yes, I managed to come home with uneaten fudge.) I’ve been known to preach (or even screech) about the dangers of sugar, but calorie counts don’t apply to any food eaten or bought on vacation, so I’ve been told. Even sugar is exempted. (Ok, even I don’t believe that.) But an occasional very small indulgence is good for the food soul. I’ll take a couple of extra laps around the neighborhood.

Mackinac Island, which is 3.8 square miles, has 80 miles of trails, if you want to walk off your fudge there. The entire island is a National Historic Landmark and 80 percent of it is Mackinac Island State Park. Initially, it was the second U.S. National Park, but the Feds later turned it over to the state of Michigan.

You can count at least three fudge shops in this photograph of a street on Mackinac Island, Michigan. You’d need four hands to count all of the fudge shops on the small island. The fudge shops are clustered conveniently close to where the tourists get off of the ferry. There are as many as 15,000 tourists a day in peak season. The fudge demand is enormous!

Here, the lovely cashier prepares my fudge purchase. I bought plain chocolate, chocolate espresso and chocolate cherry.

About Mackinac Island

Directory of Mackinac Island Fudge Shops.

History of Murdick’s Fudge.

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival.

Mackinac Island Lilacs.


Filed under Food, Humor, Life, Photography, Travel

5 responses to “Oh, Fudge!

  1. I’ve known a lot of fudge makers in my day. This town had several of them operating all year round. Then one day I got a craving and went to get some and they had all closed down.

    Wow. That sounds like a fun trip. I’d never heard of Mackinac Island before. And no motorized vehicles? What a dream come true! I can’t wait to visit there myself. That’s explains the fudge demand. They’re all walking a lot and burning those calories. In my town I introduced a resolution to prohibit vehicles in the downtown district and was promptly tarred and feathered. Good times.

    I think making fudge is a job I could enjoy, but I don’t know about doing it in a gallery with a large crowd watching all day. I don’t know if I could weather that kind of scrutiny.

    I’m still looking for the perfect fudge like momma used to make. So far, no success. Still, somehow I find the strength to keep searching. There’s always another fudge that must be eaten.

    You didn’t indicate if you allow walnuts in your fudge. I say they are mandatory!

    I love nuts, but I wasn’t sure the giftees did, so I erred on the side of caution (otherwise known as boring.) I would find it hard to perform fudge-making in public, too. Another fear — Would I be tempted to sneak a taste, or would I be so sick of fudge after a few days that eating it would be torture? In high school, I worked in a donut shop for two weeks to cover for a friend on vacation. By Day Two, I couldn’t stand the sight, smell or taste of donuts! Cathy


  2. My brother lives in Michigan and I’m overdue for a visit. Hmmm…From the pictures, it all looks a little New-Englandy (I’m thinking of our trip to Vermont.) I’m surprised those fudge makers aren’t wearing period costumes! Although I can eat a sliver of fudge, I’m afraid I burned out on the stuff as a child. When I was in 5th grade, my best friend and I made all things chocolate, including fudge for a Mother’s Day celebration that included pink lemonade. Everyone politely nibbled and then lapsed into a diabetic coma. BTW, I noticed that you wrote “food soul.” Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    “Food soul” oxymoronic? Why, that’s sacrilege if you’re a foodie. Although, there is a lot of sharp dullness in “food soul,” as well, as when one elevates the physical sensations of eating pleasure to that of the sublime. Cathy


  3. Mackinac Island sounds like one beautiful place to visit, sweet with all those fudge factories. Now, I’m also curious about the more than a hundred species of lilacs… wow. I’ve only seen 2 colors, purple and white.


  4. Great visit Catherine. I was there about 6 or 7 years ago and it was raining sideways the entire time – still, that didn’t keep me from the fudge shop.


  5. elissestuart

    Yum – Chocolate and coffee – can’t get any better than that!
    Isn’t the Grand Hotel where the movie “Somewhere in Time” was filmed?

    Yes, “Somewhere in Time” was filmed at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Ever since I saw that movie, I’ve wanted to visit the island. I’ll post about the hotel later. It’s magnificent! Cathy


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