MINEOLA – Chocolate may be the king of sweets and Donna Hanger’s shop in Mineola turns out what could be described as the crown jewel of the dessert kingdom: fudge.

Yes, that same homemade, ooey gooey, melt-in-your-mouth delicacy grandma used to make, straight from the kettle into the pan.

Creating variations of the luscious time-tested dessert seems like a rough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

“I love it,” she said with a wide grin. “This is really my dream job.”

A SWEET PASTIME

Mineola Fudge has been a staple around town for about 15 years, nestled in the front section of Between Friends Antiques, 114 E. Broad St.

The shop’s sweet inventory is made fresh daily right in Mrs. Hanger’s shop and all is available for sale, as long as supplies last.

“These are the best fudges around,” Mrs. Hanger said with a wink, declining to speculate on calorie content.

Mrs. Hanger, 61, wasn’t always a fudge aficionado, but she’s been a sort of creative entrepreneur since childhood.

She grew up in Mesquite and used her off time to look for abandoned bottles to sell and make money.

With the proceeds, she purchased candy and used the adrenaline from the sugar rush to go look for more bottles.

Her drive to peddle goods apparently continued into adulthood and bubbled over several years ago when she got the hankering to try her hand at the antiques business.

She rented a small amount of booth space in downtown Mineola and set up shop, opting several years ago to purchase the 1800s-era building when the former owner decided to retire.

The purchase came with a bonus — a little fudge shop, complete with recipes.

“I knew this business was very good,” she said. “I knew it would be a good business and a good location. I don’t have time, really, for any hobbies … this is it.”

‘DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN’

The unlikely pairing between food and antiques seems to work well among shoppers with empty stomachs, hence the birth of her new pastime as fudge guru.

Mrs. Hanger recently added coffee, cookies and baked goods — such as pecan pie — to the menu to round out the selections.

The fudge comes in about a dozen flavors, each one different and delectable, from dark chocolate and peanut butter to Texas Mud and “Died and Gone to Heaven.”

Recipes call for real cream, butter and farm fresh ingredients.

The exact specifications are mostly secret and will likely remain that way — Mrs. Hanger knows each variation by heart and doesn’t rely on recipes to create them.

She uses no preservatives and creates everything in-house with each batch passing the taste test before it’s deemed worthy of display in the front counter.

Time may be among the most important ingredients.

“I make it early in the mornings … that’s my quiet time,” she said. “The fudge must sit overnight.”

The results seem more like a slice of paradise than a guilty pleasure.

“I’ve seen people drive all the way from Dallas to buy fudge,” she said. “I also ship it all over the United States.”

Each morsel comes in a tiny box that looks more like a first-aid kit for someone with a chocolate craving than a storage container.

Tucked inside each box — a tiny plastic serving knife.

“People really get a kick out of the little knives,” she said.

For the curious, the number to the shop is 903-569-0322. There’s also a website that offers more details, www.mineolafudge.com.

If you plan to visit in person, come hungry.

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Reporter

Jacque Hilburn-Simmons is an award-winning journalist who has been writing professionally for 30 years. She's a former police reporter who also wrote a book about the KFC murder. She shares stories about East Texas through her Behind the Wheel column.

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