Close to 25 years ago in a seemingly inconspicuous retail store on the Outerbanks of North Carolina, an event occurred that was so unique, so enticingly innovative that fudge hasn’t been the same since. If A.C.Marshall has his way, it won't ever be the same again.
It was 1980 when Marshall revolutionized the time honored tradition of making fudge with the grand opening of the world's very first Fudgery. With its copper kettles and marble slabs, the store looked like a fudge shop, but it sure didn't sound like one. Marshall would whistle while he worked; he'd talk to the customers, even sing for them; and he did it all out in the open.
There were no glass walls separating him from his captive audience, no sound barriers or high countertops. Why, he could reach right out and touch them, and in his own delicious way, he has. He dubbed this revivalistic approach to fudge making as fudge theatre and it was truly"fudge-in-the-round".
Millions have experienced his appetizing blend of song and sustenance, only these days it's crews of caroling confectioners who slice up the fudge and provide the entertainment. As for Marshall, the man who started as the sole employee of his very own store, he is now the founder and CEO of a veritable fudge empire.
"I remember when we started this marvelous incredible ride," Marshall reminisced. "Everyone said 'You can't do it, especially at the beach, maybe saltwater taffy, but fudge?' They thought I was nuts."
Interactive retail is how Marshall describes his nutty concept, but what that really means is FUN. More than anything else, that has been the secret ingredient in his recipe for success; that and a first rate fudge.
"Never underestimate the value of having a good product," Marshall cautioned. "There are no shortcuts, and we use only the very best ingredients: pure vanilla, the purest chocolate and a time tested process. I truly believe we provide as good a fudge as can be found anywhere on the planet."
As for the entertainment, well, it may be off-Broadway, really off, but it consistently receives rave reviews. The employees who stir, turn and fold the fudge into a long loaf do more than whistle while they work. They're famous for fudging show tunes and coaxing smiles. Some have even made the big break from Fudgery to stardom.
The R&B group singing sensation, Dru Hill, first made a name for itself in a Baltimore, Md., Fudgery. The group was on the Billboard Charts and TV talkshows. They even performed their fudge shop routine on the Howie Mandel Show and presented Regis and Kathie Lee with a box of Fudgery fudge. Indeed, they've become the company's unofficial ambassadors and an inspiration to aspiring hopefuls. Included in this group of Fudge singers was Sisqo, who has gone on to major stardom in music and movies.