We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the History of Fudge?

By Soo Owens
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The origin of fudge is unclear, but the history of fudge can be traced back to at least 1886 CE. The exact origin and the inventor of fudge remain disputed, but some experts believe that the word "fudge" was first applied to a botched batch of caramels, prompting the exclamation, "Oh fudge!" Most food historians believe that fudge, as it exists today, is an American invention.

Fudge is a crystalline confectionery. Unlike many other types of candy, such as taffy and caramels, which forgo crystallization, crystal formation is necessary for the creation of fudge. This process creates a candy that is firm yet smooth as the crystals are so small that they do not taste or feel grainy. The fudge mixture, which must contain sugar, butter, and milk, must be properly prepared and cooled in order to create sugar crystals that are just the right size. If the process is not carried out correctly, the crystals will either form too early and become too large or never form at all, resulting in a candy similar to caramel.

The history of fudge may predate the foundation of the U.S., and experts are quick to point out the similarities between fudge and tablet, a Scottish confection. Tablet is first mentioned in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie, which was written between 1692 and 1733 CE. The process of creating tablet starts the same way as fudge — by boiling sugar, milk, and butter until they reach the soft-ball stage at 235 to 240 degrees F (113 to 116 degrees C), at which point the mixture is removed from heat and allowed to cool. Crystallization occurs in tablet, but large crystals form, giving the candy a grainy and brittle texture that is quite dissimilar from the soft, smooth texture of fudge.

Emelyn Battersby Hartridge documents the first sale of fudge, writing a letter in 1886 stating that a schoolmate's cousin had sold fudge for 40 cents per pound in Baltimore. In 1888, Ms. Hartridge, still attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, wrote that she made as much as 30 pounds of fudge for the Senior auction. Fudge caught on quickly at Vassar and, before long, recipes for the confection began popping up at other women's colleges. Smith and Wellesley colleges adapted the so-called original recipe into their own versions.

Vassar's recipe called for white sugar, cream, unsweetened chocolate, and butter. The Wellesley College creation altered the original recipe only slightly by adding marshmallows, which keeps the fudge from collapsing during cooling. The Smith College recipe was the first to deviate from the original, adding extra butter along with brown and white sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Each of these recipes is notoriously delicate. The history of fudge was forever changed when corn syrup, which delays crystal formation, was first used for foolproof recipes.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Mar 17, 2014

@irontoenail - We are only talking about the recorded history of fudge anyway. There may have been cooks who called it something else or prepared it slightly differently to suit the ingredients they had on hand who just never wrote it down.

I doubt that was the first time anyone ever ruined a batch of caramel, for example. Although I do wonder whether the swearing of "fudge" predated the name of the candy.

By irontoenail — On Mar 16, 2014

@pleonasm - You've got to remember that sugar in the form that we use it is only a recent development itself. Ancient cultures would not have had processed sugar like that, from sugar cane. They would have used honey or possibly something like tree sap or some other alternative to sweeten their foods.

Chocolate is also a fairly recent invention, particularly for the general public. We only get to eat these things, and experiment with them in cooking because of a lot of trade and industrial processes going on behind the scenes.

By pleonasm — On Mar 15, 2014

I actually had no idea that fudge was a recent invention. I always assumed it was the type of candy that was eaten by the Egyptians or at least by people in the Victorian era. I can remember making it when I was a kid. It's fairly easy as long as you follow the recipe exactly. I'm surprised that no one figured it out before then.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.