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By Trevor Dydo · 7/9/2021
If you have ever visited the Village and stopped at Pepper Lane Fudge, you know it’s a special place. As a must-see shop here at Kitchen Kettle, Pepper Lane Fudge and Sweets has made its mark as a Village favorite for visitors from all over the world. Master fudge maker Geoff Cordell shares some of his thoughts and wisdom in this exclusive interview.
Q: How long have you been making fudge?
A: I have been making fudge for 6 1/2 years, but understand that the first 3 years that I worked here were back in the 80's. I was 14 years old when I started working at the fudge shop, then known as Jim Garrahy's Fudge Kitchen. I worked summers throughout high school and then came back and purchased the business from my mom, Deb Sensenig who worked at and owned the business for 40 years, in 2018.
Q: How many types of fudge do you make?
A: We have a dozen flavors that we offer year round, with Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Turtle making up the 3 most popular choices There are 8 varieties of fudge that are made as special seasonal flavors. Some of those include Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel, Pumpkin, Maple Bacon and Mint Chocolate Chip to name a few.
Q: What makes your fudge special?
A: The premium ingredients that are used and how they are precisely measured out for each batch is the key to starting something special. Then under the careful eye of a trained fudge-maker each batch is cooked, paddled and shaped into a perfect loaf, all while taking into account factors such as weather, fudge flavor and the changing temperature of the marble tables on which the fudge is produced. Nothing is pre-measured or mass produced and that makes all the difference.
Q: What other products do you make aside from fudge?
A: We hand craft a variety of chocolates designed to fit all different tastes. We make old fashioned clear toy lollipops during the Christmas holiday season and we create unique confections for the special festivals and food events that Kitchen Kettle hosts.
Q: How long has Pepper Lane Fudge been in business?
A: Well that is a 2 part answer; the fudge shop has been a part of Kitchen Kettle since 1972, nearly 50 years. For the first 27 years it was known as Jim Garrahy's Fudge Kitchen. In 1999 the business was purchased by my parents, Deb and Mike Sensenig and subsequently re-named Pepper Lane Fudge and Sweets.
Q: Describe your fudge and why it is so good to someone who has never had it?
A: Our fudge has a velvety smooth texture combined with a melt in your mouth finish that really sets it apart from other fudges. Our different flavors all have their own special characteristics as well. The chocolate is rich but not sugary, real peanut butter is used in both peanut butter varieties, we add just the right amount of maple or vanilla to those flavors and our dark chocolate (double dutch as we call it) is not too dark but rather deep and dense just like a rich homemade fudge brownie.
Q: Three reasons why Pepper Lane is a must see village shop?
A: The people, the show and of course the fudge! I think we have some of the best employees out there. We are what I would consider to be a "family" and that makes working there fun and when you love where you work everyone that comes in the door feels it and they can enjoy their time in the shop as well. We make fudge in the shop in front of people every single day and that type of customer engagement isn't available everywhere. We try to educate and entertain with each batch that we make. Most importantly, the fudge is the best I have ever tasted and believe me I taste fudge everywhere I go, and I hear it from our customers every day as well.
Q: What is your favorite part about making fudge and candy?
A: It is just that, actually making the fudge. I love talking to people while we are creating each batch and people are amazed that we can create 25 pounds of finished ready-to-eat candy in an hour. You have the chance to talk to people, young and old, from all over the world, most of whom have never seen this type of thing and are amazed at how much work it takes to actually create a batch of fudge. Kids are the best though. They come right up to the fence and with wonder in their eyes stare in amazement as 235 degree candy is poured onto the tables, steam going everywhere and then 10 minutes later the candy maker is slinging it all around the table taking about 30 minutes to shape it into a finished loaf. I can't count how many times a day kids beg their parents to stay a couple of minutes more to see the fudge being finished, sliced or even cleaned up. They ask the best questions and are tons of fun to interact with. I do fun stuff like ask kids to do math, talk about the science of candy making and even imagine silly stuff like how much fudge has been made in the shop over the 50 year history. They all leave with a smile especially since we give samples of the fudge to everyone who comes in and that is what makes every day special.
Q: What is one thing most people don't know about fudge?
A: Fudge is a uniquely American made candy and it was actually made by accident the first time, it wasn't a recipe that anyone's ancestors brought with them to the US or handed down from generation to generation. You have to come to the store to hear the rest of the story!!
Q: How old are the stone slabs and kettle in the fudge shop?
A: The marble slabs, from a quarry in Proctor Vermont, are original to the shop so they are at least 50 years old. The kettle that we are using today is about 15 years old. Copper kettles like the one that we use only last about 20 years since we use it every day. The good thing about our current kettle is that the handles don't get hot even though we are cooking batch after batch of fudge to over 230 degrees.
Stop in Pepper Lane Fudge to meet Geoff and sample (or purchase) his fabulous fudge & confections.
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