Valley Fudge named Westby super fan
Nov 05, 2019 (Westby, WI)
November is a time to gather in thanksgiving and spark the spirit that leads us through the holiday season. As our farmers, employees and business partners make plans to cook, bake, shop and survive these hectic weeks, Westby fans remain front of mind for helping the Creamery continue its work to be the best cultured dairy foods manufacturer and milk-marketing cooperative in the country.
Among these fans are a few stand-out supporters – supporters we deem “super fans.” Linda and Steve Schulte are Westby super fans. Together they own Valley Fudge & Candy in Coon Valley, Wisconsin.
Much like Westby Cooperative Creamery, the Schulte’s use very few ingredients in their recipes. Each ingredient is vitally important to the high quality, dreamy fudge they make, including the butter.
Valley Fudge & Candy uses butter exclusively from Westby Cooperative Creamery. “We started buying one pound at a time and now we’re buying bulk in 40-pound blocks,” Linda said. “The first time I saw someone buying that much butter at Westby Creamery I thought, ‘That can’t be. How can you use 40 pounds?’ and now that’s me about every week going to Westby Creamery to buy butter.”
Linda started the business in 2016 after wanting to join her sister at craft fairs. “I’m not crafty, but I wanted to be there,” Linda said. Steve suggested that she make fudge, and the couple’s future in creamy treats began.
Prior to retirement, Steve was the director of bakery for a 250-store chain in Pennsylvania. His entire career was in bakery. “We had such a leg up from Steve being in the food business all those years,” Linda said referring to food safety regulations and inspections. “So many people don’t know how to do correct labeling,” Steve added.
The couple knew they wanted to work from a commercial kitchen and not alter their home. They said it was really meant to be when Thrifty Pickin’s in downtown Coon Valley wasn’t using the kitchen in the back of their vintage treasure and décor shop. The space allowed the Schulte’s to make fudge in the back while setting up a display in the front. Because Thrifty Pickin’s mans the register, the Schulte’s have the flexibility they need to make fudge, fill orders and make rounds to wholesale customers, of which they now have 75.
“From the get-go the community just supported us totally,” Linda said.
After the first craft fair, which sold out in two days, Linda attended a few more and learned about the group “Something Special from Wisconsin.” The couple decided to join, and from there they started attending a cash-and-carry show in Madison where people sell products to wholesale customers. This includes people who own stores in crafting. “For us, that works out because they keep ordering more,” Linda said.
It’s not just networking that has propelled Valley Fudge & Candy, the Schulte’s pour a little bit of love in every batch, every sampling event, and don’t skimp around the corners. “We make fudge just like lots of other companies, but we get reviews online that say we are the creamiest, the best, and I truly attribute that to the butter,” Linda said. And the couple has had offers from alternative suppliers offering cheaper ingredients. “It’s tempting because it can add a lot of money to your bottom line. But we have built a reputation on people saying, ‘Your fudge is the best.’ We keep picking up new customers because of that,” Linda said, with Steve adding, “We haven’t been pounding the pavement.”
Valley Fudge & Candy did, however, attend the 2019 World Dairy Expo, during which time they won one of the Daily Booth Awards. The couple didn’t even know that was a thing until they won. Criteria included booth approachability, theme and whether the space attracted people as they walked by. They also won Favorite Food at a recent Taste of Fennimore event.
If you’re a fudge fan there are several ways to get your hands on some of this homemade treat. You can visit Thrifty Pickin’s at 219 Central Avenue, along Hwy 14, in downtown Coon Valley. Or, you can order online at Valley Fudge & Candy’s website – https://valleyfudgeandcandy.com/. From there you’ll tour a world of flavor opportunities like chocolate raspberry swirl, rocky road fudge, chocolate walnut fudge, pumpkin spice latte, caramel apple pie and many more.
You can even get a fudge of the month club membership. Better yet, give the gift of fudge and grab a monthly treat for yourself.