Thursday, December 3, 2009
I had company over Thanksgiving. Fellow blogger Texaco was in town to escape the Idaho winter and check out the sights of sunny Palm Springs. Cabazon dinosaurs, Alexander homes, walking tours of historic downtown commercial spots, all of the mid century madness that one little town can offer.
On the last morning, he admitted that he had never tried a date shake. A quick look at Chowhound, and off we trotted to the Palm Springs Fudge and Chocolate Shop on Palm Canyon, just across from the Historical Society. There we indulged our craving for Date Shakes (which are awesomely delicious but headache-inducingly sweet) and were also offered a sample of home made fudge, which is their other specialty in some 40-odd varieties.
I was reminded of my college days in Flint. It was the late 1970's and the City of Flint had bet the bank on a downtown redevelopment including a brand new Hyatt Regency Hotel, major expansion of the downtown U of M campus, Windmill Place Food Court, and last but not least a Roush Development called Water Street Pavilion.
Roush was well known by then for their Festival Marketplaces- a series of downtown retail spaces which opened to fanfare, but as we later learned, seldom succeeded financially. We held out high hopes for Flint's version when it opened.
Because of its close proximity to the University, I was a frequent visitor. A giant structure with walls of glass, the focal point upon entering was a Fudge Shop where young employees made fresh fudge daily in front of a glass wall. And more than that, they sang. Out loud. I recall their youthful enthusiasm on my first visit. "Homemade Fudge! We're making Homemade Fudge" they gleefully sang out.
In the same manner that the Festival Marketplace failed to catch on, the fudgemaking seemed to become less joyful and more like drudgery as the season wore on. "More Fudge", they glumly sang by winter to a much slower beat. "We're making more fudge".
By spring they were venting their anger. "The God-Damned Fudge" became the song of their labors. "We're making the God-Damned Fudge". It had the tone and timbre of a funeral dirge, and most certainly did not inspire one to try their wares.
On my next visit, there was no singing, only glum little faces rolling fudge on the marble tables in total silence. The Fudge Shop closed shortly thereafter, and the entire marketplace dwindled to bankruptcy, and was sold off to the University of Michigan in 1991.
And as hard as I try to recollect, I don't think I've had any god-damned fudge since.