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Murdick's Fudge in the early 1900's
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Murdick's Fudge Mackinac Island Timeline

Pre-1825
The Murdick family immigrates to America from Germany bringing their family fudge recipes.
1825
Henry Francis Murdick was born in New Haven, Vermont.
1866
Newton Jerome (known as Rome) Murdick was born to Henry and Sara Murdick.
1877
The Murdick family moves to Mt. Clemens, Michigan and opens a confectionery.
1877-1887
Over the next 10 years, the Murdick family moves the family business north opening a shop in Marine City followed by Petoskey.
1887
The building of the Grand Hotel brought father and son sail makers, Henry and Rome Murdick to Mackinac Island to use their skills to make huge canvas awnings for the hotel.
1887
Henry, Sara and Rome Murdick open Mackinac Island's first fudge shop, Murdick's Candy Kitchen.
1882-1900
Rome has three sons (Gould, Jerry and Jerome) and keeps the family on Mackinac Island. The boys attend the Indian Dormitory School.
1914-1918
World War I impacts candy makers and Michigan tourism.The rationing of sugar brought candy making on Mackinac to a slow halt.
1920s
The Murdick family re-establishes Murdick's Candy Kitchen.
1923
Rome and Gould patent the trademark 'Murdick's Famous Fudge.
1929
The Great Depression hits and once again the fudge making business suffers. Only the Murdick family fudge business held on through the depression. The Murdick sons work aboard freighters to supplement income.
1930
Harold May responds to Gould Murdick's ad for a candy maker. May, a second generation candy maker, works his off-season (summer) on Mackinac Island.
1939-1945
World War II sugar ration severely reduces Mackinac Island candy stores the capacity to make candy.
1940
Gould Murdick sells the family business to Harold and Ethel May and agrees to stay out of business on the island for at least ten years.
1940s-1950s
Jerome Murdick, Gould's half-brother, opens and operates Murdick's Luncheonette.
1955
Bob Benser, Sr. arrives on Mackinac Island. A young entrepreneur, building and running the Tastee Freeze ice cream shop next to Murdick's Candy Kitchen.
1956
Jerome and Grace Murdick eagerly convert the restaurant into a candy shop, Murdick's Candy Kitchen.
Early 1960s
Bob Benser, Sr. learns the art of fudge making. As Jerome Murdick's health begins to falter, Bob Benser steps in to help Grace keep the business open.
1965-1968
Bob Benser, Sr. leases and operates Murdick's Fudge.
1969
Bob Benser, Sr. purchases Murdick's Fudge from Jerome and Grace Murdick.
1979-1980
The Original Murdick's Mackinac Island Fudge opens two stores in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
1980 - Present
The Original Murdick's Mackinac Island Fudge continues to greet guests with a variety of fudge and confections, winning awards and accolades along the way.
2012
The Original Murdick's Mackinac Island Fudge celebrates their 125'" anniversary.

 

The History of Murdick's Fudge Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island and Murdick's Fudge both synnbolize indulgence and history. Fudge may not have been invented on Mackinac, but it was on Mackinac that the Murdick family made a particular style of fudge and fudge making famous.

Fudge making began as Mackinac Island transitioned from a wealthy fur trading post to famous summer resort. In 1887, the construction of the Grand Hotel promised to make Mackinac a center of tourism and a perfect place to start a summer candy business. The building of the Grand Hotel brought father and son sail makers, Henry and Jerome (known as Rome) Murdick to the island to make the huge canvas awnings for the hotel. With the family came, Mrs. Henry Murdick and her confectionary skills and recipes.

In 1887, Mackinac's first candy shop, Murdick's Candy Kitchen, opened. It was a modest Vh story building on the waterside of Main Street. Henry Murdick made sails in his boat livery in the back of the building, while Rome made fudge using his mother's recipe. It was here that the marble table was first used to make fudge, a process which gave the fudge a unique texture and also provided a great show for visitors. Rome, like many other fudge makers was a showman at heart.

Rome's oldest son, Gould, born in 1892, quickly mastered the skills and rituals of fudge making. However, his fudge making was limited from 1914-1919 as World War I had a huge impact on candy makers and Michigan's tourism.The rationing of sugar brought candy making on Mackinac to a slow halt.

It wasn't until 1920 that Rome and his son Gould, reinvigorated fudge making and their show. They added music and large ceiling fans to blow the sweet smell of fudge into the street. Rome taught his son Gould the marble slab technique, which they brought to the front window. The entire fudge making process was now in full view of the public. They added other candies, such as taffy, peanuts, candy and kisses, but fudge was the consistent favorite.

The Murdick family had been the sole candy maker up until the mid-1920's, but as the demand for fudge increased other candy makers wanted to give fudge making a try. But 1929 brought the great depression and once again the fudge making business suffered and only the Murdick family fudge held on through the depression.

After the Depression, Rome Murdick died, leaving his son, Gould to continue the trials of running a post-depression business. There were many days that records show only selling one pound of fudge a day. In 1940, exhausted, Gould sold the fudge business to Harold May. Along with the sale, Gould agreed that the Murdick family would not compete in the candy business on Mackinac Island for ten years.

1957 brought a post war economic rebound, and Jerome Murdick, Gould's half- brother decided to come to Mackinac Island to open Murdick's Luncheonette. As the non-compete expired Jerome began to sell fudge at the luncheonette and eventually converted his business into Murdick's Candy Kitchen.

Jerome used the name of the original fudge shop started by his great grandfather, Murdick's Candy Kitchen. (Gould Murdick had given the trademarked name - Murdick Famous Fudge to his other half-brother Jerold Murdick.) Jerome continued the family fudge making tradition using the original recipe handed down from his great grandfather Henry Murdick. Each summer, Jerome made fudge every day, his wife Grace boxed and sold the fudge, while living in the back of the fudge shop on Main Street.

In 1955, Bob Benser, Sr. came to Mackinac Island as a young entrepreneur. Bob built and ran his Tastee Freeze ice cream shop next to Murdick's Fudge. Jerome and Grace treated Bob like the son they never had. When illness befell Jerome, Bob stepped in to help Grace keep the business open. He learned how to make fudge and paddle fudge on the marble slabs. After leasing and operating the business, Bob Benser, Sr. eventually bought Murdick's Fudge in 1969 from Jerome & Grace Murdick.

The Original Murdick's Fudge continues to expand to other locations on Mackinac Island as well as Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan, in addition to two stores in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Bob Benser, Jr. continues the tradition today, as co-owner of Murdick's Fudge as well as additional businesses on- and off-Mackinac Island.