Friday, December 14, 2007

It might be a farewell to fudge!

For decades, travelers on Highway 65 have journeyed north of Conway and passed by a collection of dark red buildings. Those who follow their curiosity find themselves pulling into the parking lot of a strange community called Pickles Gap Village.

Here you'll find a collection of uniquely Arkansas shops -- a music store, a knife shop, a general store, an antique business, a flea market... and a fudge factory.
















When I traveled up on a rainy December day, I expected to do a story about the entire facility -- and how it came to be. I've remembered the place since my earliest trips up 65 as a child. And though the different stores changed hands over the years, there was always fudge.

But unless something happens at the very last minute, that fudge will go away.

I thought the folks that made the fudge had been doing it for years. But I was wrong. Turns out there have been several different people that have been creating the sugary and chocolaty confections at the Pickle Barrell Fudge Factory and Snack Shop. Folks would come in, lease out the place, create and sell fudge and make people happy. But then things would happen, and they would move on. And every single time, someone else would step in and carry on that fudgy tradition.

But not this time.

Seems the lady who runs Sweet Temptations -- the one who's been making the fudge lately -- has been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of wholesale and internet orders. Her company now distributes fudge all over the state. And the store is getting a mighty bit hard to handle.

So, come December 22nd, if there's no one to step in the store will close for good.

And that would be a shame. Because the fudge here isn't just historical, it's delicious. Unlike some brands I've tried over the years, it's firm and creamy, and not the least bit chalky. It comes in a variety of flavors, including Vanilla, Chocolate, Rocky Road, and a host of varieties involving different nuts, caramel, and more. And it ships incredibly well this time of year. At $6.50 a pound, that's a great deal. That's more fudge than most people can comfortably consume in a week.

I remember all the times I came through... back to days when my nose didn't quite clear the top of the fudge case. There have alway been free samples, and chairs for kids, and lots and lots of sweet things you probably only need a few times a year.

If you want to make your own memories, act quick. There's not much time left. You'll find the Pickle Barrel Fudge Factory and Snack Shop at Pickles Gap, just north of Conway on Highway 65. Call (501) 327-8049 or check out the website..

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