This article first appeared in Currents magazine:
The most essential ingredient at Beach Haven, NJ's Country Kettle Fudge isn't
available at any food store. Before setting out to write this story, we at Currents
Magazine set out to discover what makes this Fudgery such a scrumptious success.
The type of wealth this family business has accrued has little to do with money,
and is in every way related to family and community spirit.
How can you work in a fudge store and not eat everything in sight? That's still my
question. Surrounded by mouth-watering varieties of peanut butter, triple chocolate,
rocky road, M&M and chocolate marshmallow, I would find it impossible not to
scarf the strawberry & cream or pig out on the pistachio.
Fudge is also the perfect take-home gift for those heroic house-sitters, those noble
pet watchers, and those beloved bosses and sweet secretaries who couldn't share
your vacation on beautiful Long Beach Island!
Visit Country Kettle to meet the family whose homemade fudge is still made the old
fashioned way. Stainless steel fudge vats collect the fudge over steam grates. The
fudge is then cooled in copper because it's the best way to cool evenly. After six
hours, the fudge is hand-whipped, often by owner John Maschal, who doesn't
mind sampling as he stirs. The kettles are placed in wooden barrels, weighted
so they don't tip during the stirring frenzy. The kettles (on display in the Beach
Haven store) also served as the perfect playpen for John's burgeoning family.
John Maschal's quest for the perfect combination of ingredients actually began
in 1953 under the tutelage of an Ocean City High School science teacher.
It flourished under the encouragement of his in-laws, the Whetstones. In 1961,
John opened his first store, a tiny cubbyhole in Beach Haven, near where the
Pier 18 shopping mall is today. Another store opened in 1963 where Schooner's
Wharf now stands.
But the real legacy was founded in 1965, when John purchased half a block on 9th
Street in Beach Haven, and designed Bay Village for a quaint family touch. If
there's one thing this Fudgeteer knows, it's family spirit. The business now involves
three generations of Maschals -- the littlest golden blonde workers appear beaming
and charming in Country Kettle advertisements, asking for their fill of fudge. Though
shops have opened in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, devotion to Long Beach
Island remains strong, as evidenced by their new Fudge Shop in Surf City.
by Megan Norcia