The Common Market fudge is a delectable UR staple, but who is the one behind the scenes creating this sweet treat? If you’re hoping the answer is oompa loompas, you’re sorely mistaken. I sat down with Keith Jensen, one of two Common Market employees responsible for making fudge, to get the low-down on his job as a campus candy crafter.
Eva Reynolds: First off, do you like the label ‘fudgemaker?’ Is there a term you’d prefer?
Keith Jensen: I embrace the term! People poke fun at me pretty often when I say, “I’m going to go make fudge,” but I take it in stride.
ER: How do you become a fudgemaker, rather than just a Common Market employee? Are there other food-making subsets, like ‘trail-mixers?’
KJ: The only subsets are fudgemakers. For me, it was that both of the girls that had done it before were leaving, so they asked us at our scheduling meeting who wanted to take it over. It seemed like a pretty fun opportunity to get extra hours. I like the sound of ‘trail-mixers,’ though.
ER: Do you guys bake or cook much on your own time?
KJ: I love cooking, I don’t really bake as much.
ER: What do you like to cook?
KJ: Pretty much anything, my newest obsession are pierogis. [From scratch?] No, frozen ones that I sautee in butter and garlic. From scratch sounds like it’d be delicious, though. I used to bake with my mom when I was younger: cookies from scratch and stuff like that.
ER: How much influence do you guys have over flavor creation?
KJ: The base is always the same but when it comes to adding flavors, preservatives and candies, it’s pretty much all up to us—whatever we feel like doing that day. Sometimes there are special events, such as Mel Weekend, when they asked us to [create something] Mel-themed, so I tried to spell ‘Meliora’ out in M&M’s. And then there are the holidays, like Christmas tree pretzel [flavored fudge].
ER: Are there any ideas that you really want to try?
KJ: Last year, we used this raspberry preservative that tasted really good, but we couldn’t get the texture right – it made it gooey and wouldn’t solidify. So I want to find a way to make it work, in a cookies and cream flavor or something like that.
ER: Obviously, I have to ask you your favorite flavor.
KJ: I like the ones that have some granola and fruit on them – something that’s not as sweet on top. They don’t usually sell as well, though.
ER: Describe the fudge production process.
KJ: [It’s] really, really simple. Pretty much start with 3 cups of water, then add packets of sugar and cut-up butter and the machine does the rest of the work for you. It’s just timing. The machine is like a heated kettle, you turn up the heat to melt the fudge down. The machine does all the work –which sounds kinda gross…
ER: Can individual groups request a slab of fudge for events and pay with declining?
KJ: We’ve never done that before, but I feel like that’d be a really good idea!
ER: Finally, are there any stories you’d like to share: epic fails, weird customer requests…?
KJ: Earlier in the semester, one of the batches came out really, really gooey. It looked hard, but, as I tried to take it out of the pan, it just oozed out all over me and went everywhere. It wasn’t fun, and we couldn’t sell it.
Still got a sweet tooth?