CONSTANTIA — Derinda Dempster and her husband, Kevin Boyden, opened Mountain Man’s Famous Fudge shop on State Route 49 in Constantia in December.
Dempster says the recipe for the fudge came from her father, Duane “Duke” Dempster, but it wasn’t written down anywhere. Duke was a man born in 1937 who suffered from severe dyslexia and never learned to read or write. He learned to make fudge from his parents with a pinch of this and a dash of that — watching carefully for the fudge to become the right consistency, instead of using a candy thermometer, Derinda explains. She and her siblings caught on. Duke always wanted to open a fudge shop but didn’t have the time while raising Derinda and her four siblings.
Dempster and Boyden owned a trash-removal business, called Kevin’s Garbage, from about 2002-2016, Dempster says. A couple years after selling that company, they decided to open the fudge shop in memory of Dempster’s father, whose CB handle had been “Mountain Man”. Duke Dempster died in 2008.
Derinda and Kevin have lived in Constantia since the 1970s and say they were able to get a good deal on the 456-square-foot store they lease at 1577 Route 49. It’s part of a one-story, 1,650-square-foot building owned by PSH Properties LLC, according to Oswego County’s online property records.
The couple was used to making and giving away fudge at Christmas time. One year, Boyden figured out how much it was costing them to give the fudge away and said, “We can’t afford to do this anymore.” They had been giving away 160 pounds during the holiday season. Then they jointly decided to start selling the fudge and make a business of it.
It takes about one hour to make one batch of fudge, which is 8 pounds. Boyden and Dempster make peanut butter fudge — both smooth and crunchy — and also fudge with walnuts. All the fudge is made with Hershey’s cocoa. Like Derinda’s father, they don’t use a thermometer; they add water until the fudge is the correct consistency and then pour it out.
In addition to the fudge, Dempster makes cookies, with varieties including sugar, rollout, butter, no bake oatmeal, butterscotch, and peanut clusters.
Mountain Man’s Famous Fudge is open in Constantia on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, you can find Mountain Man’s at the CNY Regional Market in Syracuse. The business accepts orders for fudge and has some fudge on hand in the shop. The fudge is typically cut into square pieces, but the cookies can be a variety of shapes and sizes as can be seen in the Easter cookies — shaped like carrots and bunnies.
Dempster and Boyden say business at their shop was brisk in December during the holiday season, but slowed in January. The couple expects sales to pick up again with warmer weather after people forget their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.