In 1877 Henry and Sara Murdick moved to Mt. Clemens, Michigan and opened a confectionary. Over the next ten years, they progressively moved the business north. By 1881, they were in Marine City where Mrs. Henry Murdick ran the candy business; six years later they opened a shop in Petoskey. While in Petoskey the Murdicks learned about a very attractive tourist market, Mackinac Island.
Henry and Henry’s son, Rome were among the crew of 300 men to construct the Grand Hotel on the island. This inspired the Murdicks to open a candy store in 1889.
“Murdick’s Candy Kitchen”, Mackinac Island’s first candy shop, was a modest story and a half building on the water side of Main Street. Here they made a wide variety of candies to satisfy sweet-toothed tourists. They promoted the cleanliness of their shops where visitors could “see it made”. Thus, for the first time, linking the candy-making process with product sales.
In the mid 1890s Henry returned to his earlier passion of boat building and turned the business over to his son, Rome. It was Rome who first made commercial fudge at Mackinac on marble slabs, a process which gave their product a unique flavor and provided quite the show for visitors. Rome, like many later fudge makers, was a showman at heart. Rome’s eldest son, Gould, was born in 1892. He carefully watched his father and quickly learned the recipes and rituals for successful candy sales – skills that he would put to good use many years later.
World War I had a dramatic impact on Mackinac Island’s tourist economy, especially the candy makers. The number of visitors to Mackinac Island took a sharp drop. Sugar rationing and the high price of available sugar provided a further blow to Mackinac candy makers. During World War I millions of individually wrapped portions of chocolates were manufactured and shipped to United States soldiers in Europe. Not surprisingly, soldiers developed a taste for chocolate and the “candy bar” became a dominant confection after the war.
Rome Murdick joined the forces with his son Gould and re-established Murdick’s candy kitchen in the early 1920s. To draw a bigger crowd into the store, Rome and Gould used the kitchen cooling fans to blow the smell of cooking candy into the street. Rome and his Gould patented the trademark “Murdick’s Famous Fudge” in 1923. The Murdick family made its third venture into the island candy business in the early 1950s when Gould’s half-brother Jerome converted his Mackinac Island luncheonette into a candy shop. Jerome kept the original name of “Murdick’s Famous Fudge”, but Gould had given the trademark name to Gerald, another half-brother, who opened a “Murdick’s” fudge store in Charlevoix in the early 1950s. Jerome’s son Douglas opened “Doug Murdicks Fudge” in Traverse City in 1964.
On April 25th, 2002, Doug’s son, Dale opened his own location in scenic Suttons Bay, Michigan and named it “Murdick’s Fudge Shoppe” with his wife Michelle and daughters Ashley and Shannon.