Fudge is a type of confection that is made by mixing sugar, butter and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F (115 °C), and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. In texture, this crystalline candy falls in between fondant icing and hard caramels.[1]

Fruit fudge
Place of originUnited States
Serving temperatureRoom temperature
Main ingredientsSugar, butter, milk
Food energy
(per serving)
a 100 gram serving may have over 450 kcal

Fruits, nuts, chocolate, caramel, candies, sweets, and other flavors are sometimes added inside or on top.

Fudge is often bought as a gift from a gift shop in tourist areas and attractions.


Assorted fudges

Fudge originated in the US during the late 19th century. The term fudge is said to have come in the 17th century from the interjection fadge, meaning "to fit together in a clumsy manner", and was originally used as a verb.[2][1] Recipes were printed in many periodicals and advertisements during the 1880s.[1] Its popularity was partly due to the decreasing cost of refined white sugar and partly due to the ability to make it at home without special equipment. Its inexpensive, unrefined qualities made it popular among people looking for a candy alternative that fell between expensive, fancy candies and the cheapest sweets.[1]

In a letter written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, she recounts the purchasing of a box of fudge for 40 cents a pound in 1886 in Baltimore, Maryland.[3] Fudge shops in tourist places such as Mackinac Island in Michigan began opening in 1887.[1]

Fudge-making was popular at women's colleges.[1] A student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, claimed to have introduced it there in 1888 by selling her own 30 lb (14 kg) batch.[4][5] The diary of another student mentions making "fudges" in 1892.[6] An 1893 letter from another Vassar College student describes "fudges" as containing sugar, fruit, chocolate, milk, and butter.[7] A recipe for "Fudges at Vassar" was printed in The Sun in 1895.[8] Despite describing the confections as "Vassar chocolates", the recipe given comprises sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla extract. Wellesley College and Smith College have their own versions of a fudge recipe dating from the late 19th or early 20th century.[9]


Fudge being cooled and shaped on a marble slab

One of the most important attributes of fudge is its texture. In forming a fondant, it is not easy to keep all vibrations and seed crystals from causing rapid crystallization into large crystals. Consequently, milkfat and corn syrup are often added. Corn syrup contains glucose, fructose (monosaccharides), and maltose (disaccharide). These sugars interact with sucrose molecules. They help prevent premature crystallization by inhibiting sucrose crystal contact. The fat also helps inhibit rapid crystallization. Controlling the crystallization of the supersaturated sugar solution is the key to making smooth fudge. Initiating crystals before the desired time will result in fudge with fewer, larger sugar grains. The final texture would then be grainy, a quality that is normally indicative of low-quality fudge.[10]

The endpoint temperature separates hard caramel from fudge. The higher the peak temperature, the more sugar is dissolved, and the more water evaporates, resulting in a higher sugar-to-water ratio. Before the availability of cheap and accurate thermometers, cooks would use the ice-water, or cold-water, test to determine the saturation of the confection. Fudge is made at the "soft ball" stage, which varies by altitude and ambient humidity from 235 °F (113 °C) to 240 °F (116 °C). Butter is added, and then the fudge is cooled and beaten until it is thick and small sugar crystals have formed.[1] The warm fudge is sometimes poured onto a marble slab to be cooled and shaped.[11]

Flavors and similar types

Fudge-making evolved a variety of flavors and additives. The favored flavors vary by place. In the US, chocolate is a default flavor, with peanut butter and maple as alternatives. When it is made from brown sugar, it is called penuche[1] and is typically found in New England and the Southern United States. Pralines include nuts but not usually chocolate.

In the UK, rum-and-raisin, clotted cream and salted-caramel are popular.[1] Tablet is a confection with similar ingredients but a distinct, grainy, brittle texture. It is often labelled as butter fudge or fudge outside of Scotland.[1]

Hot fudge

"Hot fudge" sauce in the United States and Canada is a chocolate product often used as a topping for ice cream in a heated form, particularly sundaes and parfaits. It may occasionally be used as a topping for s'mores. The butter in typical fudge is replaced with heavy cream, resulting in a thick, pourable chocolate sauce while hot, becoming denser as the sauce cools. Commercial syrups (flavored with natural or artificial flavorings) are generally thinner and formulated to be usable at room temperature. One also encounters "hot caramel" or "hot butterscotch" but these commercial formulations are not very similar to fudge or hot fudge sauce.

See also


  1. Goldstein, Darra (2015). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. pp. 287–288. ISBN 9780199313396.
  2. "fudge | Etymology, origin and meaning of fudge by etymonline". www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2023-01-12.
  3. Hatala, Greg (2014-01-14). "Made in Jersey: Fudge is a chocolate confection with a Plainfield connection". NJ Advance. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  4. Benning, Lee Edwards (1990). Oh Fudge!: A Celebration of America's Favorite Candy (1993 ed.). New York: Owl Books. pp. 3–18. ISBN 0-8050-2546-4.
  5. Quinion, Michael. "Fudge". World Wide Words. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  6. Martin, Elma (22 December 1892). "Diary". Vassar College Digital Library. Poughkeepsie, New York, New York. p. 33. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  7. Mansfield, Adelaide (12 November 1893). "Letter". Vassar College Digital Library. Poughkeepsie, New York, USA. p. 6. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  8. "Fudges at Vassar". The Sun. New York, New York, USA. 23 December 1894. p. 1, col. 4. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  9. Werner, Edgar S. (1915). Werner's Readings and Recitations. Vol. 54. Edgar S. Werner and Co. p. 159. ISBN 1-145-32274-3.
  10. "The Nibble: Origin Of Fudge - History Of Fudge". www.thenibble.com. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  11. Reed, Anne (13 April 2016). "Tradition lives at Gulf Coast Fudge Co., North Fort Myers". news-press.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.


  • Jones, Charlotte Foltz (1991). Mistakes That Worked. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26246-9.
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