The Reason Every American Tourist Attraction Sells Fudge

Have fudge, will travel.

Fudge Shop
Photo: Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

From Mackinac Island to the Outer Banks and every American vacation destination in between, if there are tourists, there is also fudge.

For more than a century, tourism and fudge shops have gone together like peas and carrots. So, is there something about travel that makes us crave a decadent amalgamation of sugar, butter, and milk? Well… sort of.

"Fudge is an impulse thing," Sally Lowe of San Francisco's Fudge House explained to Robert Reid in a piece for National Geographic. "No one wakes up in the morning and goes, 'Hmm, I need fudge today.'"

The kind of people who smell fudge and reach for their wallets are people who have spare cash and time on their hands.

"The smell of it [fudge] just hooks them in, like a drug," Lowe said.

WATCH: Mamie Eisenhower's Chocolate Fudge

Tourism and fudge have been best friends since the Victorian times, when fudge-makers first started putting on confectionary shows for passersby from behind their shop windows.

As Reid points out, this spectacle was hardly an accident. Fudge-makers realized that "people will stop to see almost anything done," as one 1901 pamphlet observes, "especially if the performance requires some particular knowledge."

Today, fudge shops satisfy vacationers in two ways: it's entertaining to watch something being made, and they provide a nearly sinful treat reserved for special occasions.

As Patch Hyde of the Fudge Kitchen, a U.K. chain with American roots, explained to Reid, fudge is a simple extravagance. "It's so obviously bad for you that it's wonderfully indulgent to have a hand-worked lump of sugar," he said. "It's like living outrageously for a short amount of time. It feels euphoric."

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