Mackinac Island is a bastion of history and tradition in Lake Huron at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac. Less than four mi in size, the island can only be accessed either by plane or ferry. The island is known for many things: small-town charm, picturesque views, quaint shops, and its fudge. The fudge, in particular, is a part of life on this beloved island that its residents have a term for tourists who spend time up North to purchase this sweet treat – Fudgies.
Although not invented on Mackinac Island itself, the fudge was perfected here. Fudge making has been elevated into an art form. Started during the years following the Civil War, its tradition is stronger than ever, and this delectable treat remains the island’s most popular souvenir. The island even honors the fudge through a celebration: the Fudge Festival which falls in the latter week of August. Indeed, no visit to Mackinac Island is complete without sampling some of the variations of this sweet delight (and bringing some to your loved ones.)
Some of the popular fudge shops around the island:
One of the oldest and most popular, Murdick’s has been serving homemade fudge since 1887. One can choose from over 15 classic flavors like chocolate, butter pecan, chocolate caramel sea salt, Michigan maple walnut, and other seasonal varieties. Murdick’s Fudge prides itself for using only all-natural and gluten-free ingredients. Toffee, brittle, and caramel corn can also be purchased.
7363 Main St., Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Ryba’s Fudge Shops started in 1936 when its founder, Harry Ryba, opened his first shop in Jefferson and Chalmers in East Detroit. Selling fudge, caramel corn, and donuts, Ryba and his business partner, Victor Callewert, began selling their confectionery at fairs and events, most notable the Detroit Auto Show at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Their business took off since then, opening their first shop on Mackinac Island in 1959. Ryba’s Fudge Shops supposedly started the idea of making fudge on storefront windows and has been voted as “Michigan’s Favorite Fudge” by the Detroit News for three consecutive years.
Reputedly the oldest, May’s Candy Shop started in 1881 in Atchison, Kansas by the May family. They eventually migrated to Mackinac Island and opened a candy store. During World War II when the US had to go through sugar rationing, Harold May, the patriarch, decided to make fudge only in the mornings and to open the store at noon every day, selling only 1 lb of fudge for every customer. Their high-quality fudge sold out for as fast as two hours. At present, the fourth-generation May siblings manage the business.
7351 Main St., Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Joann’s Fudge is a third-generation family business that continues its commitment to provide high-quality fudge to its customers. Its first store opened on Mackinac Island in 1969 by Joan and Frank Nephew at a building beside the old McNally Cottage. A second store opened at a historic building in downtown center and a third one was opened in 1980 in Mackinaw City. Joann’s Fudge uses only fresh ingredients and does not use preservatives or powdered ingredients. Other products can be purchased like cashew brittle, peanut brittle, cream caramel sauce, bittersweet chocolate, and saltwater taffy.
Since opening in June 1875, Sanders still stick to its standards of using the finest quality ingredients for its confectionery. Its products were intertwined into the lives of Michiganders by 1940s to 1950s, gradually penetrating national supermarket chains. At present, Sanders is a national brand and is known for its iconic products like Bumpy Cake and Pecan Torties.
Grand Hotel is a third-generation, family-owned establishment steeped in history. Charming guests since 1887, the hotel offers exceptional accommodation and unique boutique experience all year-round. Visit Carlton’s Tea Store and try the hotel’s homemade fudge. Coffee and desserts are also available throughout the day.
286 Grand Avenue, Mackinac Island, MI 49757