This year, Roly’s Fudge is proud to celebrate our 30 year anniversary. We can’t thank our Roly’s fans enough for their support over all these years!
Since being established in 1987, we’ve been dedicated to making the very best of handmade fudge. With 38 shops across the United Kingdom and fudge fans across the world, we’ve come a long way so far.
Three decades ago, our handmade fudge began its life on the kitchen table of a small 16th century Mid Devon thatched cottage in the West Country. Peter and Lindsey Riley, the founders of Roly’s Fudge, began with the vision to live off the land, initially selling the produce from their cottage garden in farmer markets.
It was a hard way to earn a living, and to cheer themselves up, Lindsey found an old recipe book of her grandma’s so she could make their family and friends some fudge. The plate was very soon empty and their friends were asking for more – and Peter and Lindsey realised they had stumbled across a good idea.
From the kitchen to the high street…
But how would Peter and Lindsey convert a 150-year-old recipe into a business? With some haggling, a large copper cauldron was obtained from an antique shop in Honiton. Their kitchen marble slab was cleaned and sterilised and, using their traditional recipe, the first batch of Roly’s vanilla fudge was produced.
Although it was a time-consuming method that required dedication, it produced a delicious and unique Devon taste. At this time in 1987, truly handmade fudge was starting to disappear from the market, with factory processed confectionery becoming the trend. Peter and Lindsey were determined not to let this disappear and to bring ‘real fudge’ to the high street. And this continues to be true to this day.
Much as we get fan letters sent to the ‘Roly’s Fudge Factory’, there is no factory! What customers see in our Roly’s Fudge shops is exactly how it is. Each and every single piece of our fudge is made using traditional methods, in our copper pans.
The first Roly’s Fudge Pantry
The founders of Roly’s Fudge spent several weeks in their kitchen on product testing in order to hone the recipe and make it truly outstanding. Finally, it was time to bring their fudge to the high street – to Torquay, Devon, home to the first Roly’s Fudge Pantry.
It was a gamble to open a shop dedicated only to handmade fudge! The shop was fitted out with traditional gas stoves and their antique copper pan. The shop windows were whitened so no-one could see in. On the day of opening, they made a small peep hole, to reveal people queuing down the road waiting for the doors to open.
Interested members of the public flooded into the fudge pantry. Lindsey worked days and Peter worked through the night to keep up with the demand. They specialised in five flavours: Vanilla Clotted Cream, Chocolate, Butterscotch, Rum ‘n’ Raisin, and Maple & Walnut. They were all made with authentic ingredients, no artificial flavourings or additives. Real walnuts and 100% maple syrup was used in the Maple & Walnut Fudge; dark rum and juicy raisin in the Rum ‘n’ Raisin flavour. To this day, our Assorted boxes of fudge still contain these ‘Roly’s Five Favourites’, all made in the same traditional way.
The start of Roly’s Fudge Franchising
The shop in Roly’s Fudge Torquay continued to run for two years, exceeding all expectations. When the line of shops was eventually demolished for a new shopping centre to be built, everything moved to Roly’s Fudge Barnstaple. The reputation of the business was spread word of mouth. A few more shops opened from there, including one in Totnes and one in Paignton.
The best way to bring Roly’s Fudge to customers across the country, it was decided, was to make Roly’s Fudge a franchising company. This would allow Roly’s Fudge to continue to follow its same values of handmade, authentic fudge, and also to assist others in opening their very own fudge pantry, a childhood dream for many. The very first Roly’s Fudge franchisee was Ilfracombe, which opened 20 years ago in 1996. Roly’s Fudge Ilfracombe is still based in its same location on the harbour.
Following soon after was the development of the Roly’s Fudge brand, with our wrapping paper and colour scheme of black and gold. Peter and Lindsey also employed an additional assistant to keep up with the demand behind the scenes with accounts and packaging, who eventually took on Roly’s Fudge with her family to develop it into the business it is today.
Roly’s Fudge today
Once Roly’s Fudge became a franchise, shops started to open throughout the country, from Yorkshire to the Lake District, West Sussex to Cornwall. In 2016 alone, an astonishing nine shops opened, and 2017 is set for a similar trend!
Many of our franchisees coming into Roly’s Fudge open not just one, but several shops – over 80% of our franchisees own 2 or more shops, with some owning as many as four shops each! That way, we are a franchise company but also a ‘Roly’s family’.
Roly’s Fudge now is the biggest fudge franchise in the world. But what is much more important to us is that all of our fudge pantries remain independent shops on the high street. Every new shop is individually fitted out, with franchisees trained on how to make the best crumbly fudge possible. And each new shop has its distinctive own personality and feel – from our older ‘Original Roly’s Fudge Pantries’ in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Paignton, to themed fudge pantries such as Roly’s Fudge Bakewell dedicated to the best of Cherry Bakewell Fudge.
Roly’s Fudge remains a family-owned, family-run business. We are so delighted to reach 30 years of Roly’s Fudge, and to be able to do so exactly how we started, with our same traditional values in mind. No factories or supermarkets are needed, and no artificial colourings or oils are in our fudge – it’s all just Roly’s crumbly fudge. Thank you to all our Roly’s Fudge fans for supporting us along the way and who have made this possible!
How we’re celebrating 30 years of Roly’s Fudge
New gold wrapping paper
We’re introducing a new gold wrapping paper to celebrate our 30th anniversary. In the shops we’ve trialed it so far, it’s been flying off the shelves! The new colour is coming to a Roly’s Fudge Pantry near you and is now available on our online shop rolysfudge.co.uk/shop.
Celebrations throughout our Roly’s Fudge Pantries
Throughout the year keep an eye out for limited edition flavours and events from our Roly’s Fudge Pantries celebrating our 30 years!
Our new Roly’s Fudge History boards
When you visit your local Roly’s Fudge Pantry, keep an eye out for our new signs with all of the history of our company over the past 30 years.
And something BIG for Roly’s Fudge Online…
In Autumn 2017 we’ll also be releasing a new feature for the Roly’s Fudge website – fudge fanatics who need a constant supply of fudge or a gift for the Roly’s mega fan will be very happy with this!