The global fudge community knows very well that the world’s best fudge comes from the resort towns of northernmost Michigan. The art of making it was perfected there in the late 19th century.
And that’s also exactly where the first Kilwins fudge shop opened in 1947.
Today, with a location at 74 East Main Street in Patchogue, and another in Babylon, Kilwins has stayed true to the original way of making fudge — the way the folks in Michigan have been doing it for roughly 140 years.
And they do it right before your eyes, on a near-daily basis. To help understand what, exactly, is happening when that aroma hits your nose, here are some fun facts we compiled from Kliwins’ owner John Murray, III.
what is fudge?
First, some fundamentals. Fudge is not chocolate in another form. Fudge is considered a sugar candy, and always has been. Fudge is a mix of sugar, butter and milk. “Chocolate is mostly cocoa with some sugar to sweeten it, as raw cocoa alone is somewhat bitter,” Murray said.
how is it made?
Kilwins’ Mackinac Island, Michigan-style fudge recipe is cooked in copper kettles and hand paddled on a marble table in what’s called the candy kitchen, located in all store windows. “This process is very different compared to the pan fudges made elsewhere and in residential kitchens,” Murray says. “Odds are it is not your grandma’s fudge.”
in the candy kitchen
Murray walked us through the process as one of his workers got to fudge-making.
“He’s gonna pour that [soft-ball stage fudge] onto our marble table,” he explained, “and then very evenly pull all the heat out of this, which is now over 200 degrees. Once it reaches the ideal temperature, he will then physically paddle it, which both mixes it and cools it. Then he’ll loaf it, and people buy it by those loafs.”
a winter/holidays treat
In the Northeast, fudge has become synonymous with fall and holidays in quaint tourist towns. At Kilwins, they rotate their fudge selection seasonally through the year, but especially with the holidays, fall and winter.
“Our fudges make great host gifts or are an excellent sweet treat for holiday gatherings or winter wedding favors,” Murray says. “The fudge can be shipped anywhere and easily from our stores, and it doesn’t melt.”
We’re always bargain-hunting for our readers. Murray just tipped us off that if you buy two slices, you get one free.