Mackinac Island Fudge: History, Vendors & Flavors! (2024)

Today, we’re identifying the history, vendors, flavors, and locations you can find one of my favorite sweet delicacies, Mackinac Island Fudge.

“The Jewel of the Great Lakes”, Mackinac Island, Michigan, is a fascinating haven full of unique, small town wonders, with a relaxed pace of enjoying life and the genuine hospitality that comes with everyone you encounter.

You’re on vacation: indulge your sweet tooth in local Mackinac Island Fudge by visiting one of seven authentic shops and trying as many flavors as you can handle!

Mackinac Island Fudge: History, Vendors & Flavors! (1)

Mackinac Island Fudge on Main Street

Mackinac Island Fudge: History, Vendors & Flavors!

Mackinac Island is commonly known as America’s Fudge Capital! You may have the chance to try Mackinac Island Fudge as soon as you embark off your ferry ride and arrive at your local accommodations. Many of the Bed and Breakfast properties on the Island offer not only a delicious breakfast, but some proprietors have a relationship with downtown business owners and offer a taste of local delicacies, including Mackinac Island Fudge.

There are many shops you’ll find in the vicinity around Mackinac Island that claim to produce fudge in the Mackinac tradition, but aren’t truly local. This post will detail seven shops to savor truly authentic Mackinac Island Fudge, always produced on premises: Sander’s Candy, Ryba’s Fudge, The Murray Hotel Fudge Company, May’s Candy, Joann’s Fudge, Original Murdick’s Fudge and The Grand Hotel. In addition to brief histories on the vendors, read on for tasty tips and top flavors from each shop!

Mackinac Island Fudge makes a great keepsake for you to remember your trip, or a decadent, homemade gift for a friend or loved one. If you have someone watching your pets at home while you’re visiting Mackinac Island, bringing them an indulgent box of artisanal Mackinac Island Fudge will extend far beyond a simple “thank you”.

Fudge Shop: where to purchase fudge!

When it comes to finding a fudge shop on the island to sample and purchase, there is no shortage of locations. While most of the locations are downtown on the main street, you could hop from one place to the next tasting samples until you decide what you would like to take home.

1. Sanders Candy

The doors to Sanders Candy were first opened back on June 17, 1875. Founder Fred Sanders Schmidt, equipped with a borrowed barrel of sugar, opened his first chocolate shoppe in Detroit. His mission still resonates, premium chocolates at a fair value.

There’s much more than fudge at this shoppe, with gourmet cookies, molded chocolates, and their signature Bumpy Cakes. A special treat is a scoop of ice cream with their decadent dark chocolate hot fudge sauce on top. My personal favorite is the hot fudge cream puff and I would take the ferry just for this.

You’ll find nine storefronts for Sanders Chocolate and Ice Cream Shoppes throughout Michigan, two of which are located on Mackinac Island. Gourmet chocolate treats, caramels, and seasonal treats are made with time-honored Sanders recipes, available year-round shipped to your door in an insulated cooler.

2. Ryba’s Fudge

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Harry Ryba began his confectionary adventure in 1936, opening his first shop in Detroit. He offered caramel corn, donuts, and his signature fudge. He opened another shop a decade later, honing his craft as a master fudge maker. After expanding operations to Mackinac Island in 1960, Harry became known as the “Fudge King” for his two marketing tactics: crafting fudge in the storefront window for passersby to see, and wafting the irresistible aroma onto the streets. His daughter and son-in-law expanded their imprint on Mackinac Island, and today they own a number of local businesses. Though he passed away in 1996, his children and grandchildren have carried on his traditions, ensuring the “Fudge King” lives on.

The most popular flavor at Ryba’s is their Chocolate Pecan, combining heavy cream with premium chocolate, nutty pecans, and pure sugar to make what they tout as “the richest and creamiest fudge on Mackinac Island”. For a riff on a favorite candy, try Ryba’s Turtle, which transforms their Chocolate Pecan by adding a layer of luscious, buttery caramel and crunchy pecans on top.

Quality is truly “King” at Ryba’s Fudge, where novice makers are required to complete a two-year apprenticeship, and all fudge is cooled on genuine Italian marble slabs. Boxes are available for purchase on their website, and a 1 1/2lb. box allows you to try three of their signature flavors.

3. The Murray Hotel Fudge Company

Operating in Mackinac Island since 1882, this full service hotel offers an old-fashioned fudge shop in its Victorian-era home. Located on Downtown Mackinac’s Main Street, you can enjoy delectable fudge just downstairs from your accommodations when you stay here and visit Mackinac Island.

You’ll find a vast variety of fudge offerings beyond the traditional flavors at the Murray Hotel Fudge Company. Birthday Cake, Caramel Apple Pie, Carrot Cake, Peanut Butter Explosion, Pumpkin Pie, Rocky Road, Snickers, and Tiger Butter are among the more notable flavors. Sample away while in search of your favorite flavor here! The Murray Hotel Fudge Company operates an online store with shipping available seasonally, fulfilling orders from May through October.

4. May’s Candy

There is only one shop on the Island that can tout itself as the oldest offering genuine Mackinac Island Fudge, and that is May’s. Harold May started his business in Atchison, Kansas in 1881. He came to the Island to work for Murdick’s, and when they left, he brought his family business to Mackinac Island. His business survived the Great Depression, only making fudge in the mornings, opening his shop at noon, and limiting sales to 1 lb. of fudge per person, selling out in just two hours! Customers remembered their dedication to the freshest, highest quality fudge available, and business thrived after the Depression. In 1975, May’s Candy received a visit from President Gerald Ford, what they believe to be the only fudge shop visited by an American president!

Chocolate Nut, Blueberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Peanut Butter are some of the most popular flavors at May’s Candy. Other noteworthy flavors include Amaretto Chocolate Chip, Rum Walnut, Coconut, and Sea Salt Caramel. The shop also sells Peanut Brittle, English Toffee, and Divinity, a classic egg-white soft, creamy candy. Online orders are only available during the summer season through their website.

5. Original Murdick’s Fudge

Murdick’s arrived on Mackinac Island in 1887, following the traditional confectionary recipes of Mrs. Henry Murdick (Sara) and a renowned marble table to give the fudge a unique texture. For decades, Island residents and tourists alike visited to marvel at the wonderful music and sweet aroma of fresh fudge at Murdick’s. While the Great Depression shuttered the family business in 1940, it reopened in 1957 using the same original family recipes. Today, the Benser family follows the same “old-fashioned fudge-making techniques” from Sara Murdick, serving original Mackinac Island Fudge in three outposts on the Island.

Murdick’s has 20 flavors of authentic Mackinac Island Fudge in their repertoire, but flavors rotate based on availability. Many Chocolate and Double Chocolate varieties are always found on their list. Ripe Michigan cherries are abound each summer, and Murdick’s showcases them in their Chocolate Cherry and Traverse City Cherry flavors. A local specialty, Michigan Maple Walnut, uses Northern Michigan’s natural sugar for a unique, earthy sweetness in every bite. There’s a flavor of Mackinac Island Fudge for every sweet tooth found at Murdick’s. Order online for a sweet treat delivered to your door.

6. Joann’s Fudge

Founded in 1969, traditions ring true at Joann’s Fudge, where heavy cream, fresh butter, and pure ground cocoa beans make up the essential ingredients in the authentic products they are proud to call their own. Copper kettles and a gas flame help bring the fudge to a perfect temperature before its poured onto marble slabs and worked into loaves using a hand paddle.

Joann’s may not be the oldest property around, but it is possible they offer the largest variety of fudge flavors on the Island, boasting 29 different recipes for you to sample. Noteworthy flavors include Penuche Pecan, Orange Truffle, German Chocolate, Double Dark Chocolate Mint, and Butterfinger. You’ll also find additional sweet treats like ice cream, saltwater taffy, caramel corn, and peanut brittle at Joann’s Fudge.

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Joann’s Fudge remains a third generation family business, with two outposts on Mackinac Island and a third in Mackinaw City. Fudge is available for order year-round directly from their website, and Joann’s encourages patrons to order for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Easter, and all holidays where someone can savor their decadent treats. Joann’s even offers wedding and party favors, with uniquely designed miniature boxes for your guests to enjoy a taste of their signature fudge.

7. The Grand Hotel

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An expansive summer hotel located on Mackinac Island, you’ll find traditional fudge sold in their gift shop. You can even extend your time at The Grand Hotel with a leisurely, traditional afternoon tea. For more information on accommodations and other activities to enjoy at The Grand Hotel, please see my post on Places to Stay on Mackinac Island.

Don’t miss an exclusive opportunity to celebrate fudge in all its glory: The Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, in mid-late August every year.

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Mackinac Fudge: Tips

  • If you chew fast enough between tasting fudge you can trick your fitbit into thinking you are running. Kidding!
  • Mackinac Fudge is almost always being made somewhere – stop in and watch this sweet treat in action. It is quite the process but so fun.
  • A lot of you ask what my favorite flavors are. To be honest, every time I am on the island I find a new flavor to love. No two visits have been the same.
  • If you want to sample flavors, just let the wonderful staff know at the shops any they will slice you off a sliver. I recommend tasting before buying because everyone’s fudge tastes different.
    • Last fall I was running down the Main Street in the rain tasting fudge to try and find the perfect one to give a relative. I found it!
  • Beyond fudge, these shops house a variety of amazing sweets. Some of my other favorites are: peanut brittle, caramel corn and saltwater taffy.
  • Sanders IS one of my all time favorite place, but it is for their hut fudge cream puff. Which means the fudge is in liquid form – but should not be missed.

For more tips and info on Mackinac Island, please feel free to follow me on Instagram, Facebook or my larger travel account.

Mackinac Island Fudge: History, Vendors & Flavors! (6)

Mackinac Island Fudge: History, Vendors & Flavors! (2024)


What is the oldest brand of fudge on Mackinac Island? ›

May's Candy

There is only one shop on the Island that can tout itself as the oldest offering genuine Mackinac Island Fudge, and that is May's. Harold May started his business in Atchison, Kansas in 1881. He came to the Island to work for Murdick's, and when they left, he brought his family business to Mackinac Island.

What makes Mackinac Island Fudge different? ›

To obtain the world famous taste, the fudge is slowly cooked in traditional copper kettles over a gas flame. Once the desired temperature is reached, the mixture is poured onto marble slabs for a cooling period and then hand-paddled into loaves.

Who owns Murdicks fudge on Mackinac Island? ›

Bob Benser, Sr. and Bob Benser, Jr. continue that tradition today along with the entire Benser family. Through the generations, Murdick's Fudge on Mackinac Island has been recognized as an iconic Michigan favorite.

How many fudge shops are on Mackinac? ›

Today, there are 13 fudge shops on Mackinac Island, and they're making so much fudge that the island imports 10 tons of sugar per week! Sampling Mackinac Island fudge remains one of the favorite activities of visitors, with chocolate being the most popular (although when President Gerald R.

What is the world's best fudge? ›

Mackinac Island Fudge – The Best Fudge on Earth
  • Original Murdick's Fudge.
  • Joann's Fudge.
  • Ryba's Fudge Shops.

Who made the first fudge? ›

Fudge's story began in the United States around the 1880s. The first documented instance of fudge being made was at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York when a student named Emelyn Battersby Hartridge heard of a fudge recipe and made 30 pounds of it for a senior auction.

How long is Mackinac fudge good for? ›

How long is Mackinac fudge good for? Fudge is a perishable delight, and its longevity depends on how it's stored. For optimal freshness, we recommend consuming your fudge within ten days of purchase.

Why don't you stir fudge? ›

Avoid crystallization

During cooking, sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan. If you stir the mixture, these crystals could fall in and crystallize a part of the sugar again.

Where is the fudge capital of the world? ›

Mackinac Island, between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, is the self-proclaimed "Fudge Capital of America." The car-free oasis has more than a dozen fudge shops. During the summer, fudge-loving tourists (affectionately called "fudgies") flood the island.

What celebrities own property on Mackinac Island? ›

Do any celebrities live on Mackinac Island? Yes, celebrities have houses on Mackinac Island. A few are actor Vince Vaughn, Director Ron Howard, and Michigan's own Bob Seger.

Who owns most of Mackinac Island? ›

While all of Mackinac Island, the landform, is located within the corporate limits of the City of Mackinac Island, today 82 percent of the island's landmass is owned by the State of Michigan and managed by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission (MISPC).

Who owns Brigadoon Cottage on Mackinac Island? ›

They say they're touched to know others carry a special affection for their home. “It astounded us, how many people care,” said Janet Stingel, who with her husband has owned the Main Street landmark since 1989. Janet and Jay Stingel, owners of the Brigadoon cottage on Mackinac Island.

Is a fudge business profitable? ›

High Profit Margins

With the right pricing strategy and a high-quality product, fudge can deliver substantial profit margins. Ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and it can be produced in large quantities, making it a cost-effective product with a potentially high return on investment.

What is the famous house on Mackinac Island? ›

The Biddle House is a historic house and fur trade shop space, built before 1800 on Market Street on Mackinac Island in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of Mackinac Island State Park. It is a Michigan Registered Site and a contributing resource to Mackinac Island's status as a National Historic Landmark.

How many people permanently live on Mackinac Island? ›

Living on Mackinac Island is possible; there are nearly 600 people that do so year-round. According to the 2020 census, there are exactly 583 people who call Mackinac Island their home. That being said, it can be challenging to become a full-time resident of Mackinac Island, due to limited housing and jobs.

How old is Cadbury fudge? ›

Fudge (chocolate bar)
Product typeConfectionery (fudge)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Related brandsList of Cadbury products
1 more row

When was hot fudge made? ›

Summary. Ice cream sundaes--ice cream topped with flavored syrup--were first referred to as "soda-less sodas." C.C. Brown, a Los Angeles ice cream parlor operator, is generally credited for introducing the hot fudge sundae in 1906.

Where is Orkney fudge made? ›

Orkney Fudge & Sweeties

The famous Orkney Fudge made in Stromness from a secret recipe.

Who makes Mackinac Island fudge ice cream? ›

Mackinac Island Fudge - Guernsey Farms Dairy. Formulated using only the finest and freshest ingredients, our premium ice cream is crafted in small batches to deliver a well-balanced creamy taste you won't soon forget.

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