There’s no single theory on the exact origin of fudge, but many food historians agree the first mention of America’s iconic sweet was in a 1886 letter written by Vassar student Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, noting how a schoolmate’s cousin cooked up a batch and sold it for 40 cents a pound in Baltimore.
Hartridge went one better and obtained the recipe and used it to make 30 pounds for the Vassar senior auction which spread to similar endeavors at other women’s schools and eventually across the globe.
Now, handmade fudge crafted by local family owned retail businesses like The Fudge Kettle comes in an assortment of flavors, and many of them can be purchased at the Marco Island Farmers Market 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday at The Fudge Kettle booth owned by Larry Phillips and his wife Linda. This is the Phillips’ first season at the market but the couple’s third year operating vendor booths both at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Farmers Market and the Third Street Farmers Market.
The enterprising Phillips’ initial venture into the fudge business started four-plus years ago at the Creighton Cove Gourmet Market (near The Dock restaurant) which featured handmade fudge along with a fruit shipping sideline. At the time Larry Phillips was the manager and later became owner when his boss made him an offer to sell because he had other business pursuits. Subsequently, he also sold the successful market because he saw a better opportunity to expand the retail outlets for the fudge business at local farmers markets.
Incidentally, Fudge Kettle products are also sold at local markets such as Abbot’s Frozen Custard on Fifth Avenue South, the Oakes Farm Market on Davis Boulevard and Randy’s Fishmarket retail fish market and gourmet store where Larry works when he’s not tending to business at the farmers market booths, explained Linda, who works at one of the
“The Fudge Kettle is family owned and operated and has been manufacturing premium fudge in our commercial kitchen since 2003. Our gourmet fudge is made only with the finest and freshest ingredients. We use real cream and butter, fruits, nuts, candies and liquors and hope our customers enjoy eating it as much as we enjoy making it!” said Linda Phillips, noting that at present the Fudge Kettle’s farmers booths currently offer enough of a selection to satisfy customer’s cravings any given week of the two-dozen unique flavors in their confectionary repertoire and unlimited possibilities for filling special orders.
Flavors include but are not limited to: Chewy Praline, chocolate, chocolate pecan, chocolate strawberry, chocolate walnut, dark chocolate, double chocolate, fudge with Butterfinger pieces, Heath English Toffee chunk, Key lime, Key lime chocolate, maple walnut, milk chocolate, mint chocolate swirl, orange cream, peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate, Penuchi nut, rocky road, rum raisin and vanilla as well as sucrose-free maple walnut and peanut butter fudge for people who can’t tolerate certain kinds of sugar, said Larry Phillips.