An oldie but a goodie. (get it?)
Driving home from the shore, we pass a candy store whose main staple appears to be Fudge. I believe the name of the store is Madge’s Fudge, and that gives it away. It was a Sunday, and after 5 when we passed the store, and although all other stores selling food, gas, liquor, and sundries were open, this store was closed, prompting me to ask J, in the driver’s seat, have you ever seen that store open? No, he had not, in his memory although the store was decorated for July 4th, and the grounds were neat, and there was a fresh coat of paint on the walls of the building.
About 20 miles later, right next to a restaurant, we saw a second fudge shop, and it was also closed, and yet the business adjacent to it was doing a land office business.
In short, fudge is icing without the hindrance of cake. As a small child, my sister was hugely popular at birthday parties because of her dislike, or possible indifference to icing. Fudge is a confection that is either enjoyed immensely, or disliked entirely, depending, I think, on one’s affection for sweets and fats. Since the addition of a non-fat, artificially sweetened version, I wonder about the criterion, but then, I suppose the people who purchase the imitation are thinking about their health in a superficial way. If they were really concerned with the fat and sugar, they would just give the food up. Unlike my grandfather the chemist, who believed that artificial ingredients were better - read: less expensive, I feel that where food is concerned, I would always prefer the original recipe, so my figure has suffered while my taste buds enjoy themselves.
After passing the second closed shop, I again asked J,” What do you make of this? All of the other places on this road are open, and the candy stores are closed.”
“ I don’t think it is a fudge time of day,” he offered.
“ Well, at what time would one be interested in such an indulgence?” I inquired.
“From 2 to 5” was his concise answer, and in answer to my further questioning “and would it be a sunny kind of a day?”
His answer was only “yes.”
After that we discussed that although anything could be had from mail order and the Internet, we felt that salt- water taffy was a commodity only to be obtained on a boardwalk in New Jersey. There was a general agreement that for no known reason, fudge came under the same heading.
When we went to Cape May, his mother blithely requested that we bring her some fudge, as if it were not readily available elsewhere, or that coming from a resort town, it might be all the more deluxe. As it happened, the temperature in the car was about half that of molten chocolate, and we decided against a purchase.
A friend of mine, in an effort to help me find a job, and be satisfied with something close to minimum wage said “Just think of it as pocket money. When I lived out west with my first husband, I was at home with the kids, and to make some extra cash, I made the most wonderful fudge, and wrapped it in beautiful cellophane, and sold it to people and stores. After a while, I was making so much that it took most of the day for me and the maid to finish.”
I was astonished at this story, not because my friend was handy in the kitchen but because of that offhand way she threw in “the maid”. If a person could afford to pay a maid, did one really need pocket money? Maids were a lot cheaper in those days, and I suppose it was a lot of help to have a second pair of hands in the kitchen. If she spent money on the ingredients, and took the time, and paid the maid, and still made money, was her husband wise to this scheme or did he approve of her ambition? My friend is worldly and sophisticated works mostly in Art Administration these days, and it is amusing to imagine her in a western town, wearing her day dress and apron as was done in the 50’s, whipping up candy with the maid, in the kitchen. She may have even saved some for her family to have for a treat.
My real desire was to ask,” could you make some for me?”