I love fudge, but most of my attempts to make it end up either hardened in the cooking pan or in small crumbles in the baking pan.
Thank goodness for Grandma Mary!
Leaside’s very own fudge queen, Grandma Mary, aka Mary Grant, has been creating melt-in-your-mouth fudge most of her life, using recipes from her family in the Maritimes.
Mary was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, but her parents and their 14 children moved to Guelph when she was young. She always had a knack for cooking, but in her adult life, living in Thornhill with her husband and six children, she had never worked in the food business.
All that changed six years ago after she moved to an apartment in Leaside. Mary was making fudge for family and friends when one day her son asked if she would consider whipping up 200 lbs. for him to sell at a booth at the Taste of the Danforth.
No problem! Mary went to work on the home stove in her apartment on Bayview and produced all 200 lbs. When the Taste of the Danforth booth fell through, Mary had no idea what to do. At the suggestion of her daughter, Mary approached Pusateri’s, McEwan’s and Summerhill Market to see if they would be interested in her fudge. Yes! She continues to supply them and a few other specialty businesses with her sweet treats, including as a private label for Pusateri’s.
Mary knew that producing fudge for so many people meant she would need to move operations out of her apartment. From a small set-up on her kitchen stove she graduated to producing fudge in a big warehouse for Sobey’s, having adapted her original recipes to be made using induction burners and larger quantities at a time – but still hand made. During this time she also picked up pointers about packaging, labelling, nutrition, and precise weights for each package that still help her with her business.
She also picked up a name that stuck – Grandma Mary’s – the inspiration of one of her grandchildren who thought it was completely obvious that the name should be “Grandma Mary’s,” as that was what they always called the fudge in the family.
Mary stopped making fudge briefly after her husband died, but decided to get back into the business. Now she visits her customer stores to check stock on Mondays, makes fudge on Tuesdays, packages it on Wednesdays, delivers on Thursdays. She has stuck with the three most popular flavours – maple walnut, chocolate and old fashion – except for Pusateri’s, for whom she creates an additional three exclusive flavours.
Mary works mostly on her own, except when she is filling extra orders for corporations or at holiday times, when sons Adam and Miles lend a hand. You may be lucky enough to be in one of the stores she supplies on a day when there are little samples in paper cups to try, before your taste buds insist that you buy at least one package…if you can stop at just one.