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June 16: National Fudge Day

As if we need an excuse to eat fudge! We celebrate National Fudge Day on June 16th. Of course we have recipes. #nationalfudgeday

Can you guess how fudge got it’s name?

salted caramels with fudge speech bubble

Today we’re celebrating the definition of fudge as “a soft candy made from sugar, butter, and milk or cream.” But before fudge as a candy was invented, fudge meant the other definitions that we still use today.

Like cheating, or fudging an exam. Or “a mild exclamation of annoyance”, you know, instead of that other F-word. And “to make or adjust in a false or clumsy way”.

It’s believed that the first batch of fudge ever made was “fudged” while trying to make caramels and that’s how it got it’s name. (I wonder if they said, “Oh fudge!” and the name stuck.) 😉

Oh Fudge as swear word on 1910 post card
Oh Fudge as swear word on 1910 postcard

Thanks to women’s colleges, fudge became a thing.

According to the book Oh Fudge: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Candy*, the first mention of fudge in America is in a letter by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge. When she was attending Vassar College in 1888, a classmate’s cousin from Balitmore made fudge. Two years later Hartridge made 30 pounds of it for the Vassar Senior Auction and it became a phenomenon. 

The famous “Vassar Chocolate”.

Vassar’s alumni magazine reports, “Vassar Fudge remained a favorite among students for years to come. So bewitching was the chocolaty confection that students would make it in the middle of the night, dangerously diverting the gas from their lamps for the task.”

The ingredients for fudge could be snuck out of the cafeteria and the girls would cook “fudges” on the gas lamps. They even made a poem about it in the 1893 Vassarion.

What perches us upon a chair

To stir a sauce-pan held in air,

Which, tipping, pours upon our hair —


Vassar fudge being made in the womens dorm
the fudge party

Fudge was a “college dish”.

While the college men were permitted to roam at night, the college women had a strict 10 p.m. curfew. Their late-night fudge parties with scavenged ingredients were their way of rebelling. Each women’s college made their own fudge recipe.

1897 New York Tribune  reported that “college dishes” were best “when a dozen or more girls are congregated in a room, sitting on sofa cushions spread out on the floor in a mystic circle around an alcohol stove, from which the odor of ‘fudge’ rises like incense.”

Vassar fudge was chocolate, Wellesley College had marshmallows, and Smith College used molasses.

(Try the recipes from each college. They are printed by the Walter Baker & Co. booklet Choice Recipes at Kristen Noble Keegan, Historical Geographer.)


Mental Floss: 15 Rich Facts About Fudge

Atlas Obscura: America’s Early Female College Students Held Illicit Fudge Parties

Vassar The Alumnae/i Quarterly: Fudge Mania

Kristen Noble Keegan, Historical Geographer: Women’s College Fudge

William Murray Bell: Pilot: An Authoritative Book on the Manufacture of Candies and Ice Creams (recipe for Vassar Fudge)

How to celebrate National Fudge Day.

June 16 National Fudge Day

Whatever you do, don’t forget to use the official hashtag for your photos on social media. #nationalfudgeday

Eat fudge.

Duh. Get your friends together and head to the local confectionary store or buy some at the grocer’s and enjoy with wine or hot chocolate at home.

Host a fudge party in honor of the women who were cooking “fudges” in their dorm.

Of course you have to eat fudge, but why not make it a party? Get your friends together for a fudge party just like the girls at the women’s colleges. Make it a roarin’ fem fest!

Have a Fudge Bake-Off.

Ask everyone to bring a batch of their best fudge recipe and have a taste testing contest. You’ll have no problem finding judges!

Want some fudge recipes? Here are some with our candy recipes.

Do you love fudge? Tell us a fudge story – but don’t fudge about it.

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