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Blue Ridge Fudge Lady makes life sweet, learns to adapt in pandemic

She also shows us how to make three-minute fudge for National Fudge Day
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 8:33 AM EDT
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DRAPER, Va. (WDBJ) - Wednesday is National Fudge Day! And business is booming for the Blue Ridge Fudge Lady in Pulaski County.

But as any small business owner will tell you, it wasn’t always this good. Then with the pandemic last year, Robin Burdette had to learn how to take a nasty situation and make it sweet again.

She’s been known as the Blue Ridge Fudge Lady for the last six years.

“I love to be in the kitchen,” Burdette said.

And she’s good at it.

“I think fudge is creative,” she smiled. “So when I make fudge, I really only make two flavors, vanilla and chocolate. Then I divvy them up and make different flavors out of those big batches.”

Fudge and entrepreneurship go together like peanut butter and chocolate. But when Burdette started her small business, things weren’t always sweet.

“I think in the first year, I would actually throw fudge away because it would go bad and it used to make me so sad,” she said.

The lessons learned in those early years, though, really prepared her for what 2020 would bring.

“It was pretty intense,” she said. “In the beginning, I had a retail shop in downtown Pulaski and of course that closed.”

But her secret to survival?

“Be innovative,” Burdette explained.

For the first time, she really focused on online sales and found a huge market for fudge lovers in the corporate sector.

“I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought that I would ever be making this much fudge and people would actually be buying it,” she laughed.

But buying it they are! Whether it’s through online sales, the store front in the Draper Mercantile or massive corporate orders, Burdette’s fudge is flying off the shelves.

“Weekly? About a hundred [orders],” she said, explaining how she has to make fudge every day to keep up with the demand.

And when those massive orders come in, production ramps up even more.

“This weekend I made about 500 pounds of fudge,” she said.

Through the ups and the downs, Burdette has learned that both in the kitchen and in your everyday lives, life is as sweet as you make it.

“I definitely have fallen so many times,” she said. “I think the key is just to get back up, learn from your mistakes, and keep going.”

For National Fudge Day, Robin Burdette and her daughter Abby showed WDBJ7′s Katey Roshetko how to make fudge in three minutes. See recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of chocolate chips
  • 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk.
  2. Stir until mixed well.
  3. Put in the microwave for three minutes at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds. The fudge will thicken and lose some of its shine.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Spread evenly in an 8x8 pan. (Lining it with wax/parchment paper instead of butter makes it easier to cut and serve.)
  7. Let sit on the counter (not the fridge!) covered with plastic wrap for a few hours until hardened.
  8. Cut, serve and enjoy!

EXPERT TIP: Don’t store fudge in the fridge. Keep it at room temperature or put it in the freezer to help it last longer.

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