It’s hard to believe that one person could change your life …..
But that’s exactly what Jim Jamison did.
Jim Jamison was John Maschal’s high school science teacher who owned the famous Johnson’s Popcorn stand on the Ocean City boardwalk. In 1955 he decided to open a fudge shop and hired John to help create the creamy and delicious fudge.
As it turned out the recipe is very simple: fresh cream, milk, pure cane sugar, glucose and a touch of salt. Then things get complicated and Jim Jamison’s science made all the difference. Kind of like in the hit series, “Breaking Bad,” but this was breaking oh so good!
In order for the fudge to come out perfect, it must be cooked to the exact temperature. It sounds easy, but in the 50’s using a mercury thermometer with only two-degree gradations and immersed in steam and boiling fudge, this required skill and art. John learned to count the rhythm as the mercury slowly approached the precise softball* temperature.
Jim Jamison taught John to carefully cool the fudge – this is where the science comes in. It must be done in small batches in handmade copper kettles. The fudge mixture (it’s not fudge yet) is then able to cool slowly and evenly until it becomes a super-saturated solution*. Again, at a precise temperature, the mixture is whipped with a large wooden paddle. This step requires skill, timing and technique. It is the slow cooling and rapid beating in the copper kettle that causes the mixture to change very rapidly from a super saturated mixture to the smooth creamy fudge Country Kettle is famous for.
From father to son, this finely crafted technique has been perfected and passed on. Now John’s son, JB, continues to make fresh creamy Country Kettle Fudge at the Jersey Shore, one small batch at a time. And what started on the boardwalk in 1955 has become a family legacy and the finest fudge in the land!
Thank you Mr. Jamison!
*Softball: Around 235° at sea level.
*Super-saturated: When a saturated solution begins to cool it becomes super-saturated, and the smallest disturbance will induce crystallization. This is why the copper kettles do such a good job of cooling the fudge mixture.