Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mackinac Part One: Fudge

I think to make the posts more readable and organized, I'm going to divide them up into a few parts. So to start off, a review of the fudge!

There are several different fudge companies on Mackinac: Ryba's, Joann's, May's, Murdick's, Murray's, and Sanders, which you've already heard about. It's a Michigan-wide company, although I've never seen fudge at their stores down here, and the other ones are all home grown on Mackinac. We didn't try Murray's because my parents said the last time they were up there it was terrible. I figured, no problem skipping out on bad fudge.

There are several possible problems with fudge. It can be too dry, too sugary, or too grainy. Naturally the fudge will dry out if it isn't kept properly covered after you buy it, so you have to rewrap and store it carefully. It's made on marble slabs in the store. The hot fudge is poured out on the marble slab and then the bakers scoop it up and fold it over, building it up into a long brick until it cools and holds its form. Then it is cut into slices, which you can have cut in half again when you buy it so that you can try multiple flavors. Most stores will require you to buy two halves to fill up a box. The fudge stores all sell other candy items as well - caramel corn, regular popcorn, usually ice cream, homemade candies, peanut brittle, etc.

So, here are my reviews of fudge, from worst to best:


Murdick's fell into the "too grainy" trap. We got peanut butter chocolate chip (on the left) and double dark chocolate. The double dark chocolate wasn't chocolate-y enough, and in addition both were a little dry. The chocolate chips in the peanut butter one didn't melt enough so they were kind of hard (they're only in the very center of the slice so you can't see them very well in this picture). Murdick's is probably not worth the trip if this is their typical standard of product.

May's claims to be "the family that made fudge famous." The first problem with May's is that they wouldn't cut the slabs of fudge in half so that we could try a couple of flavors. That was annoying. Their fudge was not at all dry, very soft and fudgey, but the chocolate peanut butter flavor that we tried was more caramel flavored than chocolate flavored.

The next three I have a hard time ranking in any order because they were all so delicious! It's impossible to choose between them!

We got the peppermint patty flavor. WOW. Creamy, fudgey, delicious flavor - a definite must-have if you find yourself on the island! Sanders features all kinds of other unusual flavors that are a depart from the typical chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, vanilla walnut, etc.

On the top left is chocolate peanut butter, bottom left is cherry coke, the bottom right is cherry vanilla swirl or something like that, and the top left I'm not sure.

Chocolate raspberry (which we tried a sample of and was also DELISH) on the top left, mocha cafe on the bottom left, German chocolate on the bottom right, and vanilla pecan on the top right.

Joann's wins the prize for cutest store. Unfortunately my photo didn't turn out very well, but I think you can get the idea, and you can see my parents in the picture!

And I got a nice picture of the guy cutting the fudge slabs. The other great thing about Joann's is that they'll give you any warm, melty scraps if they're available when you walk in. YUM!

Joann's also has some pretty unusual flavors:

The labels are pretty easy to read on this picture.

Here on the top shelf we have double dark something with nuts, double dark without nuts, and raspberry truffle. They also have rocky road, kahlua, butterfinger, and several sugar-free selections. We ended up getting the double dark chocolate (had a warm, gooey sample and just couldn't resist!):

And chocolate cherry and maple. Joann's was the only shop where they had plain maple and didn't require you to buy maple walnut, which is a double whammy for me. Not only do I not like nuts, but since my transplant I've developed an allergy to walnuts!

Joann's is creamy, soft, and delicious. Not grainy, not too sweet, really good flavor of everything, but the double dark chocolate was especially fantastic, much better than Murdick's.


Ryba's is practically an empire and owns half the downtown area! Their characteristic pink and brown logo and awnings are all over. They have at least four fudge shops, two bicycle rental shops, and a breakfast restaurant!

Ryba's also had delicious, soft, not at all grainy fudge. We tried the gourmet oreo cookie flavor and the chocolate peanut butter, which was much richer and more chocolatey than May's.

Of course I had to try the ice cream too! Most places carry a brand called House of Flavors, which is made in Ludington, MI, on the coast of Lake Michigan. The ice cream was fantastic! I tried three flavors while we were there: cookies and cream, black cherry, and peanut butter Mackinac Island fudge. All were superbly creamy but not too rich, had a really good flavor, and weren't too heavy either, they didn't sit like a rock in my stomach like ice cream sometimes can. The standout winner was the peanut butter Mackinac Island fudge, which had little pieces of fudge mixed in with ribbons of caramel and peanut butter in vanilla ice cream. It was AMAZING. I would go all the way there just to get this flavor again! It isn't actually listed on their website and I have no idea why, because it's amazing. AMAZING.

As a side note, a lot of the fudge places list flavors on their websites that I did not see in the stores, so I don't know if those are premium flavors that they make on request or for special occasions or what. Also, what's with all the nuts in the fudge? I'm going to sue them for discrimination against people with nut allergies!


Monique said...

Oh. My. GOD!!! You weren't kidding about this fudge business!! Holy cow, that's amazing :)

My mouth is watering haha. Hope you enjoyed the trip!!!

Leesa said...

Hey there Mir---

Okay, I just looked at an drooled over the pics and didn't have time yet to read all that you wrote but WOW!!!! Thanks so much for sharing the pics... SHOOOOOOTTT - looks soooo yummy!
I think "fudge" is the new "ice cream!" I got some at

What says you?!!

kiwi in france said...

ohhhhh, I'm so hungry now! I LOVE fudge and didn't realise how much I miss it until now. Yum!

I love gourmet fudge and unfortunately there are only a couple of shops in the WHOLE of New Zealand that sell it, and I've not seen it in France.

Enjoy your holiday, I'm very jealous.

au soleil levant said...

Monique - Incredible, isn't it? There are people who take the ferry over just for the day specifically to buy fudge, and the Islanders call them "fudgies." Hee hee.

Lees - Fudge is the new ice cream? Not sure about that one! Ice cream is so cold and creamy, and it has the advantage of being available everywhere!

Kim - I had no idea fudge was so hard to come by in NZ! Hope you can find something similar in France?

getyourselfconnected said...

Looks like a "sweet" time! Great pictures and a great writeup. Joanns gets my vote on appearance only.

I will have some fishing pics up in a bit; I am slacking and took today off and I am off until next Tuesday.

au soleil levant said...

GYSC - nice fishing pictures! Can't say I really see the difference between large and smallmouth, but oh well. I'm a little ADD this week and just can't be bothered to pay too much attention!

No worries, I'll get the pics of the hotel up soon, when I'm a little less ADD :)

Side note: had some more fudge tonight and was struch all over again by how rich and chocolatey the Joann's double dark chocolate is! Would have no problems eating it every day!

getyourselfconnected said...

When is your birthday? Maybe a little Joanns delivery as a surprise from one of the readers???

To see that hotel will make me all emotional, and I do not like to get all emotional!

Why did he find that dang penny in his pocket! What a rip off.

au soleil levant said...

My birthday is actually in a couple of weeks! So I should still have a bunch of fudge hanging around at that point.

Why did he leave the penny in his pocket in the first place? He knew the rules!!!

getyourselfconnected said...

I think the plot device was that it was sewn into the old coat and he had no idea, but yeah, I get ya!

Any birthday ideas or plans? I am a HUGE birthday person; it's the only day ayear that is yours alone.

I linked this post tonight so you may get a bunch of hits by the hungry sort on the site. Have a great weekend!

au soleil levant said...

I think you're right, I guess it's been a little while since I've seen the movie!

My birthday is the 15th. July is kind of a big month around here, lots of stuff happens, and half of my family also have their birthdays in in July.

Hungry fudge lovers, huh? Thanks for the link! Loved the truffle shuffle shirt! The Goonies is one of my favorite movies.

Zhu said...

You made my mouth water, even though I currently follow a pain aux chocolat diet!

I first had fudge in Australia and occasionally have it in the U.S. It's a delicious treat!

Susan Conley said...

How funny that this post came up when I searched for fudge that my nut-allergic kids might be able to eat while visiting. It's not the nuts in the fudge that will keep them from trying the real thing, it's the overwhelming cross-contamination with nuts in every shop. We'll be making or ordering safe fudge for them to eat while we're there. (I will be careful with my treasured chocolate cherry!)