Get This Jersey Shore Boardwalk Staple Shipped to Your Door
The Jersey Shore has officially reopened, and travelers are flocking back like seagulls to plates of unguarded funnel cakes.
But with new cases of the coronavirus rising in pockets all over the country, travel—whether we're willing to admit it or not—is still fraught this summer. As an entire country navigates how to greet friends, eat at restaurants, and vacation again, we're weighing the risks and embracing small pleasures. To some, that means donning a mask and claiming a plot of beach sand. To others, it means being more cautious. For the second group, may I suggest a tiny act of self-care: ordering a box of treats from the Original Fudge Kitchen, a quintessential Jersey Shore staple that ships nationally.
On typical summer afternoons downashore, as we say in Philadelphia, strolling the weathered boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey, certain sights are as constant as the rise and fall of the tide—those aggressive seagulls, the Castaway Cove ferris wheel, and, dressed in a crisp navy blue and white uniform and holding a tray of teeny vanilla and chocolate fudge squares, a Fudge Kitchen employee doling out free samples.
The locally-beloved confectionary first opened nearly 50 years ago, on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey. Brothers Joe and Paul Bogle spent their teenage summers working for Segal's Candies in Cape May, a beach town about eight miles south. When the owner retired, he suggested the boys, then 15- and 17-years-old, start their own shop.
Half a century later, the Bogles operate six outposts of the Original Fudge Kitchen—in Wildwood and Cape May, as well as Stone Harbor and Ocean City, New Jersey—where they sell candy, saltwater taffy, and their iconic housemade fudge. Hand-whipped in small batches, the recipe calls for all-natural ingredients like pure cream, unsweetened chocolate, and, for the vanilla flavors, brown sugar.
Besides the straightforward ingredients, Joe Bogle says the difference is in their technique. Made in copper kettles that can be spotted prominently through the windows of the shops, each 12- to 15-pound batch is whipped to achieve the optimal smooth texture and aeration. "It makes it creamier," Bogle says. "In almost 50 years, we have never made a batch any other way. There is no machine."
Inside the seaside shops, the dense fudge, presented in thick, rectangular slabs, comes in flavors like classic chocolate and vanilla, along with newer recipes like sea salt caramel, cookies and cream, and bing cherry vanilla. In any flavor, this fudge occupies a prominent place in the pantheon of boardwalk treats, alongside funnel cake, pizza slices, and soft-serve custard. But besides its iconic taste, the experience of visiting an Original Fudge Kitchen is just as memorable. It's been the exact same in the decades I've been going, starting with the welcome samples. Upon entering the shop, you're greeted again, this time with a joyful chorus repeating the day's special, which has been the exact same for at least the last decade: "Buy two pounds of fudge, get one free pound of salt water taffy." The refrain is as quintessential a Shore sound as any lapping wave or seagull squawk. You obviously take the deal, and can opt for your rainbow-hued taffy in a paper bag or gift-able box.
And while the experience of visiting, and sampling, and seeing the hand-whipped confection being made is one classic tradition of going down the Shore, ordering online goes a long way in conjuring some Shore vibes at home. The Original Fudge Kitchen has always shipped its fudge nationwide, but lately, it's become a lifeline for the small business. The only thing missing from the delivery is the lovingly offered samples, but those are on hold for now, anyway.