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 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”.
Mackinac Island Fudge: The Shops
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Grand Hotel
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.
Mackinac Island Fudge: Tips
- If you chew fast enough between tasting fudge you can trick your fitbit into thinking you are running. Kidding!
- 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.