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Van Winkle’s Opera Fudge a Homemade Hit Since 1962 | Agriculture and Tourism Industry

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While Lebanon County, Pennsylvania’s best-known contribution to the delicacies scene is probably going its bologna, one other lesser-known delicacy additionally hails from the identical locale. If you’ve by no means heard of opera fudge, this sweet is a hidden gem greatest recognized primarily to a fortunate few in Central Pennsylvania.

Oddly, opera fudge is neither a fudge, nor does it have a longtime hyperlink to opera. It’s bite-sized items of deliciously clean, creamy fondant coated in chocolate. Some say opera fudge dates from when it was thought-about unladylike to be seen chewing in public, which isn’t a drawback with this confection that melts in your mouth. Others attribute the sweet’s title to bygone days when native opera homes have been unheated, so opera fudge — which melts rapidly in heat climate — made a excellent wintertime snack whereas taking in a present.

With nearly 60 years of expertise, Lebanon’s Van Winkle household is among the many best-known purveyors of home made opera fudge. From its founding as a literal “mom and pop operation” to the 28,000 kilos per yr produced as of late, Van Winkle’s Candies leads the way in which in producing this particular deal with within the epicenter of opera fudge nation.






Audrey Brubaker, Sandy Agee and Brenda Sandjo sit round a desk used for dipping balls of opera fudge fondant into melted chocolate utilizing cake testers; Brubaker is the “topper”, who seals the tiny tester holes to guard the fondant from air publicity.


It all began again in 1962 when Nancy Van Winkle was trying to find a approach to turn into a stay-at-home mother whereas producing family earnings. She turned to her good friend and neighbor, Catherine Bowman, who occupied the opposite half of the identical Guilford Street duplex on Lebanon’s Northside. Catherine had an opera fudge recipe from their mutual good friend, Irene Eberly, and taught Nancy the best way to make it.

Following some trial and error, Nancy perfected her approach and started making opera fudge for household and associates. Her husband, Fred Van Winkle, would help after his workday on the close by Lebanon Steel Foundry. Their product developed a native following so, by the early Eighties, they obtained Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture licensure.

In addition to taking orders at their dwelling, the Van Winkles began distributing opera fudge to a number of small native shops, reminiscent of the previous Grimes’ grocery retailer simply two blocks from their dwelling, in addition to the Southwest Corner Store, situated on Lebanon’s Southside. The Van Winkles additionally started hiring a number of associates and neighbors to assist with the labor-intensive opera fudge-making course of.