Monday, December 24, 2007

The Fudge Will Go On.

An update on a previous story:

On Saturday the 22nd, the Pickle Barrel Fudge Factory and Snack Shop cleared out and closed its doors.

But this isn't the end for great fudge at the popular stop.

For decades, people have been stopping off at Pickles Gap to peruse the neat memorabilia and souvenirs, and to take home a chunk of sweet, tasty fudge. In the early years, Ralph and Janis Mack made the fudge in addition to owning and running Pickles Gap Village. But eventually, it
got to be a bit much, and other fudge makers came in to practice the art.

Earlier this month, I happened to be passing through and found out from a talkative store clerk that the Fudge Factory was shutting down. I asked why, and she shared that the lady who ran Sweet Temptations -- who made the fudge -- had a great business now making all sorts of fudge for all sorts of people. And running the store day-to-
day was more than she needed to handle.

The potential loss of fudge along Highway 65 was a bit of a shock to me. For years, I'd passed Pickles Gap on my way hither and dither, and stopping in for a sample and a block to take home. As an adult, when I needed a unique gift to
send to someone, I'd stop in and pick up some fudge or have them send it off for me. It was a great way to do things, and the prices were reasonable.

We swung back through on the 22nd to see if we could determine the fate of things... but it was busy. The lovely lady who made the fudge was there, and was telling us about one gentleman who orders 300 pounds of fudge a month, just to send over to Iraq for our soldiers there. That's cool.

We loaded up on fudge and headed out to a family gathering.

Not having a definitive answer, I decided to go directly to the source today and find out. I gave Janis Mack a call... and found out, to my delight, that fudge will continue. The popular confection will still be sold at Mack's General Store -- right across the parking lot from the old Fudge Factory. There's no danger of it going away, thank goodness.

What's more -- Mrs. Mack is looking for someone new to come in and take over the old shop. She has a vision for the business, and I think it's a good one. She thinks it'd make a lovely tea room, and I couldn't agree more. Imagine -- a highway oasis, where one could nibble on sandwiches and drink flavorful beverages before meandering over to the other neat shops in the Village. That'd be just dandy.

Because there are really neat things to see there. In addition to Pickin' Porch Music and the knife and card shop, the General Store is just a great place to pick up all sorts of Arkansas things. And it's not just jams and jellies, though I did pick up a bunch of those to send off to friends (the miniature jars are just 69 cents!). It's all sorts of cookbooks, local products like jerky and Juanita's peanut butter brittle and candles, Red Hat lady stuff, quilts, and mugs that inform you that Conway is between Pickles Gap and Toad Suck (doesn't sound weird to us, but it does to others!).

There's all sorts of unique handmade jewelry, Coca-Cola merchandise and John Deere memorabilia. And there's always something going on in the back, a seasonal room where Christmas stuff is currently on display. In fact, if you're looking for that particularly special gift that just screams "Arkansas," this is definitely the place to find it.

One way or another, know that the fudge is safe and sound... and that you can still find it at Pickles Gap.

To get there, just head north from Conway or south from Greenbrier on Highway 65. It's on the west side of the road, in a hollow. You can also find out more by checking out the website or calling (501) 327-8049. And if you're interested in helping out with that dream the Macks have for that tea room, better call double-quick.

UPDATE 9/5/17. Pickles Gap Village is still ongoing. Check out the Facebook page here.

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