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Sweet Beginnings

The sweet beginning of the Ryba family’s handcrafted confections began on Detroit’s East side in 1936, when Harry Ryba opened his first sweet shop at Jefferson and Chalmers. A decade later, Harry opened a second Detroit confectionary where he began to hone his skill as a master fudge maker. Soon after, a precocious teenager began selling newspapers outside the busy shop. Both irritated and impressed, Harry hired Victor Callewaert, his future business partner and son-in-law. Rena Ryba and Victor Callewaert were married in 1957. The following year Victor and Harry officially become business partners.

A Michigan-Made Tradition
Ryba’s Fudge takes off when the ambitious pair begin peddling their signature fudge at events, festivals, and fairs in the 1950s – most notably the Detroit and Chicago Auto Shows, where Ryba’s becomes the official sweet treat of the marquee events. As these events and venues grew, so did Ryba’s.

Mackinac Island Fudge

Harry Ryba and Victor Callewaert bring their handcrafted fudge to Mackinac Island in 1960. Here, Ryba’s Fudge Shops is where fudge making became a public spectacle luring visitors to the front windows of Mackinac Island’s fudge shops. Ryba’s is where tasty new fudge flavors are invented, where fanning the sweet scent of fresh fudge into the street was pioneered, and where tourists are still confectionately referred to as “Fudgies.” Harry Ryba’s affectionate name for the visitors seeking the sweet treats in Ryba’s signature pink box.

Family Recipes Perfected

Over the next thirty years, Ryba’s Fudge Shops open in Wildwood and Atlantic City, New Jersey; McCormick Place and Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. While these shops have since been closed, the sweet aroma of fudge still wafts onto the streets of Mackinac Island from four unique Ryba’s Fudge Shops. Passersby stop in their tracks to watch as skillful sweets makers pour hot, molten liquid from copper pots onto marble slabs to make decadently delicious fudge. Recipes perfected over four generations and a carefully honed process, result in the creamiest and smoothest fudge, packed with flavor.

Ryba's Fudge Shops Staff
The Legacy of the Fudge King Lives On

It’s no wonder Ryba become known as the “Fudge King” of Mackinac Island, passing his title on to Victor, who in turn taught his children and grandchildren his master craft, ensuring that the legacy lives on today.

More Ryba-Callewaert Family History

Victor Callewaert

Vanilla fudge: the sweetest way to keep it classic! 🍨🍬 ...

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Fudge-making 💕 turning ordinary ingredients into extraordinary moments! ...

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Chocolate has no borders, and neither does our love for it! ⁠
🤎 Happy International Chocolate Day 🤎
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Main Street 💕 @amberjmann ...

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The sweet beginnings of the Ryba family legacy. 💕 ...

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Get your pumpkin fix while you can – our pumpkin fudge is back for a fall fling! 🍁🧡 ...

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🎉 The Ryba Team rocked the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival OH-FUDGE-LYMPICS, clinching an impressive 2nd place this year! 🍫🥈 Let’s give them a round of applause for their hard work, dedication, and oh-fudge-tastic achievement! 🙌 Thank you to the crew at @mackinacisle for another fantastic event! ...

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Rebecca was super excited to win the last Fudge Festival spot as Guest Fudgemaker 💖 We had so much fun with all our guests this week! ...

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🎉 Day two at the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival was a blast! 🍫 Congrats to Wendy, our guest fudgemaker winner! 👑 We had the honor of hosting the Michigan Sugar Queen and Her Court. Don’t miss out on the buzz around our festival fudge flavor, ‘Crack in the Island Crunch’ – it’s a slice of fudgy heaven with a caramel pretzel crack! 🌟 ...

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Congratulations Michelle! “🎉 She was our inaugural guest fudge maker kicking off the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival! 🍫 From fudge to fun, it was an unforgettable experience! 💖

#MackinacFudgeFest #SweetSuccess
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🎉 Drumroll, please! It`s time to unveil our spectacular Fudge Festival creation 🌟 Crack in the Island Crunch 🌟 Like the island`s intriguing crack, this fudge is full of surprises. ✨🍫 Available in stores this weekend only! ...

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Raise your glasses to a Fudge Festival sensation! 🥃🍨 Introducing the Ryba`s Sea Salted Caramel Fudge Ice Cream Cocktail for this weekend only at Mary’s Bistro Draught House. Experience layers of delight as sea salt caramel fudge, hot caramel, and fudge intertwine flawlessly with Pinnacle Whipped Vodka and Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur. Crowned with whipped cream and a mini slice of Ryba`s Sea Salted Caramel Fudge, it`s a limited-time masterpiece that demands your attention. Cheers to fudge-filled moments! 🎊🍰 ...

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✨ G.C. Wendt posted the following results of a blind fudge tasting from various Mackinac Island Fudge Shops to end the argument once and for all!⁠

Nine people participated, and all but two agreed on everything after having discussions while tasting and retesting each one.⁠

1st Place 🏆 went to Ryba’s with great flavor and consistency.⁠

G.C. Wendt went on to say, "I decided my favorite was Ryba’s years ago when I was a porter, so that’s the one I always have purchased. I’m glad that my blind tasting proved that I’ve been making the right choice.⁠

All of these rankings are highly subjective but we did have a bunch of people involved as an aside my wife and I both hold our grande diplomas from the Cordon Bleu in Paris and we’ve both done extensive sugar and pastry work so we did approach this from a chefs standpoint."
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