Results are in! Our First ‘Unofficial’ Fudge Taste Test

It's a rough job to sample 7 kinds of chocolatey fudge, but someone had to do it.

Walking along the Parkway in Gatlinburg, you see many things. There’s one thing you see over and over and over again. It’s fudge shops — they are everywhere, and each one claims to be the best in the Smokies!

Well, we were curious. So we set up a blind taste test. We called it an “unofficial” test because we were only testing 6 adults and 4 kids. But hey, we all have taste buds! :)

We visited every shop on the main strip that sells fudge and asked for the most classic chocolate they had. Then I carefully cut the fudge into bite-sized pieces and set my husband’s family loose. Everyone sampled every kind, without knowing which type they were tasting. The results were much clearer than we expected. But before we get to the results, an overview of the competitors:

  • Aunt Mahalia’s
    • Addresses (Two downtown Gatlinburg locations):
      • 611 Parkway Suite A2
      • 708 Parkway
    • Claim to Fame: “The finest candies in the Smokies”
    • Flavor we judged: Chocolate
    • Price: $14.95 for 14 ounces
  • Chocolate Monkey
    • Address (in Gatlinburg — also has a Pigeon Forge location): 702 Parkway
    • Claim to Fame: “Take the best tasting recipes, add the friendliest employees and you get the #1 chocolate shop in the Smokies”
    • Flavor we judged: Chocolate
  • Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies
    • Addresses (Two downtown Gatlinburg locations):
      • Reagan Terrace Mall, 716 Parkway
      • Next to Ripley’s Museum, 812 Parkway
    • Claim to Fame: “The original fudge shoppe of the Smokies. Serving the Smokies since 1986.”
    • Flavor we judged: Chocolate
    • Price: Prices aren’t available online, but we paid $3.84 (tax included) for a half slice. A coupon is available for buy two slices, get one free.
  • The Fudgery
    • Address: 636 Parkway Suite #2 (This one is a chain — there are locations all over the U.S.)
    • Claim to Fame: Employees supposedly whistle and sing while they work (we didn’t observe this while we were there, but we were on a mission)
    • Flavor we judged: Extraordinary Chocolate
    • Price: $14.98 (before taxes) per pound. Online special is buy three pounds, get one free
  • Kilwin’s
    • Address: 645 Parkway (also a chain)
    • Claim to Fame: “Using only the finest and freshest ingredients, our products are a pleasure to sell, and we delight in seeing our customer’s enjoyment of them”
    • Flavor we judged: Chocolate
    • Price: $8.50 per half pound
  • Mountaineer Kandy Kitchen
    • Address: 1001 Parkway Suite 8 (in the Ober Gatlinburg Tramway Mall)
    • Claim to Fame: “I thrive to produce the freshest and most delicious candy products”
    • Flavor we judged: Plain Chocolate
    • Price: $6.25 (before taxes) for an 8 ounce tub
  • Ole Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen (believe it or not, this may be one of the last businesses in America that doesn’t have a web site!)
    • Addresses (three in Gatlinburg):
      • 632 Parkway
      • 642 Ski Mountain Road
      • 744 Parkway
    • Claim to Fame: Best Candies in the Smokies
    • Product we judged: Chocolate

The Results:
We all went into this thinking that we wouldn’t be able to tell much difference from one fudge to another. Fudge tastes like fudge, right? Wrong.

Every single one of us quickly had the fudge down to two bests: Kilwin’s and Chocolate Monkey. After multiple retastes and palate cleansers, we finally had a winner:

Kilwin’s!

But it was really close. It came down to one vote, and two adults who were sure Chocolate Monkey was best were so mad about the results that they couldn’t stop talking about it for several days. :) So I think it’s safe to say that both are good fudges.

While trying all 7 at once, the two best were so obvious. But I had the theory that if we waited awhile and ate one at a time, we’d enjoy them all. I tried a few again a few days ago, and this proved true. They all taste good individually.

Here are the comments from the testers:

  • Kilwin’s:
    • “Very creamy! Nicely sweet and really good.”
    • “Good staple fudge.”
    • “Soft on the inside with the right amount of crunch on the outside.”
  • Chocolate Monkey:
    • “Creamy and very, very good.”
    • “Great chocolate taste.”
    • “Soft all the way through.”
  • Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies:
    • “Bitter. I didn’t like this at all.” (tester actually spit out this bite!)
    • “Unusual flavor. Almost tastes burnt.”
  • Aunt Mahalia’s:
    • “I liked it. But nothing stood out.”
    • “It tastes like stale marshmallows.”
    • “I don’t like the flavor.”
  • Ole Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen:
    • “This fudge is nothing special. The flavor isn’t strong enough.”
    • “Too chewy.”
    • “Tastes like fudge-flavored salt water taffy.”
  • The Fudgery:
    • “The flavor isn’t that great and it’s too chewy.”
    • “I don’t like this.”
  • Kandy Kitchen:
    • “I hope this isn’t my favorite. It’s not smooth.”
    • “Too grainy.”
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