Fun Fudge Facts

Who? What? When? How? Fudge?

You probably know that Fudge is a decadent dessert: It's rich, it's creamy, and it comes in a variety of mouth-watering flavors. (OREO® COOKIE BREAKUP FUDGE? Yes, please!) But there are plenty more fun facts to digest. In honor of National Fudge Day, we’re serving up the sweetest fudge facts we can find.

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Serving Fudge Facts.jpg

Think You Know Fudge?

Let's See!

1. FUDGE HAS STRONG TIES TO BALTIMORE.

The earliest origin story for fudge dates back to 1921, when Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a former Vassar student, wrote a letter describing her introduction to the treat. She claims that while attending classes in 1886, a classmate's cousin living in Baltimore made the dessert, and this was her first knowledge of it. She also mentions a grocery store, probably in Baltimore, that sold fudge for 40 cents a pound.

"Vassar Fudge" became the standard recipe for what came to be known as 'American-style fudge.' Courtesy of vassar.com

When it comes to fudge, we believe that possession is nine-tenths of the law. That is, other people may have known about the sweet confection, but Emelyn Battersby Hartridge had the recipe and made it.

Turn Mr. Peabody's Wayback machine to 1888, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Principal Hannah Lyman “held firmly to the Victorian belief that women are frail creatures and in need of bland nourishment,” as reported by Darra Goldstein in the Journal of Food and Culture. Vassar students didn’t agree, and resorted to making their own treats at night in their dorms over purloined Bunsen burners or gas lighting fixtures.

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A portrait of Emelyn Battersby Hartridge hangs in the Oakwood Room at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison. Courtesy of The Wardlaw-Hartridge School

Hartridge cooked up a batch of fudge for the senior auction. We’re wondering, as you likely are, how they planned on sneaking that past principal Lyman, but let’s continue with the narrative. A 30-pound batch of fudge. Over a Bunsen burner. Think about that.

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Hartridge's instructions appeared in "Choice Recipes" published by Bakers Chocolate in 1913 as "Vassar Fudge." Courtesy of abbieandeveline.com

According to reports, it went over like hotcakes ... well, like fudge. And the recipe she used became the standard for what came to be known as "American-style fudge."

There is some mild controversy attached to Hartridge and fudge, so we'll clarify the situation: she never claimed to have invented the fudge recipe. Hartridge acknowledged that the recipe she used was provided by a classmate, who said it was her cousin's. But those friends-of-friends names have been lost to history; when the makers of Bakers Chocolate published "Choice Recipes" in 1913, they printed the recipe Hartridge had provided and called it "Vassar Fudge."

Hartridge became owner and president of what was known at the time as the Misses Scribner and Newton's School for Girls in Plainfield in 1903. Changing the name to the Hartridge School, she expanded and improved both the facilities and educational programs during her 37-year tenure.

Since the Vassar batch was cooked up, plenty of variations on the "American style" chocolate fudge have emerged -- peanut butter, white chocolate, candy cane, pumpkin butterscotch, caramel -- just to name a handful. Are you a purist and insist on chocolate fudge, or do you prefer one of the designer varieties?