“Dad, I like it,” piped the little boy coming out of the Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe. “Hold it like this when you eat it,” the father said and, my curiosity peaked, I leaned over to see what kind of treat the child was being taught to eat.. “You mean, like this?” the boy said. “Yup,” said the father. “Just like a cigarette!” And there he was–cute little boy holding a candy cigarette in his mouth like a incipient James Dean. I remember those chalky sticks of sweetness from my childhood (I liked the bubble gum ones better), but in this age of legal battles over food, I can’t believe that candy cigarettes still exist. Forget about alco-pops, the Amish are raising the next generation of smokers.
Or diabetics. The Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe–complete with the image of two cherubic Amish children with gender-specific bonnet and hat on its sign–is a candy lovers wet dream.
As the extraneous and somewhat aggravating “pe” on the end of “shop” suggests, it includes the long forgotten candy of yesteryear, from those candy cigarettes to ribbon candy (sidebar: is there a human out there who can eat ribbon candy without slicing the inside of their mouth open?) to rock candy. Rock candy! Candy that’s also a science lesson, as anyone who was convinced as a child to watch sugar water crystallize as it crawled up a string can attest.
But Sweet as Fudge, while trading on its Amishness with numerous signs proclaiming the homemade quality and the use of “REAL CREAM AND BUTTER”, has clearly analyzed 21st century markets, including the obsession with retro-everything.
Having dated someone who, I’m embarrassed to admit, was an Atkins dieter back in the day, I can assure you that the maxim “you can’t get something for nothing” is proven by the existence of sugar-free chocolate. Granted, I didn’t sample it at Sweet as Fudge, but why would I when such delights as dark chocolate covered caramels, raspberry truffles and mango truffles await? Again, here’s where the past and present meet. Candymaking, although it symbolizes simplicity and childhood, is a labor-intensive process. It’s not mix-and-match, play-it-by-feel culinary experiment. Temperature, measurement, even humidity can make all the difference between creamy, melt-in-your-mouth fudge and a granular soggy mess. I’d wager that candy, like bread, was among the first foods that were produced outside the home and, later, mass produced–hello, Milton Hershey and his Pennsylvania connections! For the Amish to move from rock candy to filled truffles is intriguing, and well done. The caramel was good, but not amazing. I was looking for a darker caramel inside the chocolate. In fact, if anyone has a suggestion where I can find dark caramels (not vanilla caramel) I’d be much obliged. Better were the raspberry and mango truffles. The raspberry was tart/sweet just like the real fruit, infused into the creamy center. The mango, with a sweet curlicue of orange icing dolloped onto its angular shape, was lovely, though I’m not sure that mango and chocolate are as natural a combo as, say, mint and chocolate, or coffee and chocolate. Of course, such ventures into new territory are essential to continued gustatory pleasure. Wo/man can’t live on candy cigarettes alone.
Recommended: filled truffles, especially raspberry. for you to try the ribbon candy and report on the status of your mouth afterwards.