This summer, see the many places and meet the many faces of Skagit.
Meet Kelly Regan. She’s one half of the dynamic duo serving up Skagit’s sweetest summer treat: homemade fudge. As store clerk of the Skagit General Store, Kelly is often the first face to greet travelers making their way through the Northern Cascades. Kelly recently sat down with us for a quick chat about the store’s signature item—homemade fudge (!)— and what she loves most about her job.
Can you tell us a little history about the Skagit General Store?
“The store was established in 1922 as an employee commissary, but was later opened to the public in 1940. We’ve been serving the community of Newhalem for quite some time—from utility employees and workers to tourists passing through and nearby campers. We’re even listed in the National Register of Historic Places!”
We hear that the General Store’s homemade fudge is a destination itself! Can you tell us about it?
“I’m not positive when the fudge first became incorporated here at the store, but I’ve been here nine years and have always served it. The fudge is world famous. We ship it everywhere; I believe Germany might be the furthest location we’ve shipped. The general store is a stopping point for people traveling on State Route 20 and our fudge is one of the main reasons why.
“We also have generations of families who stop by all the time. People have said ‘I remember my grandparents bringing me here for some fudge when I was a kid and now I’m bringing MY grandchildren here, which is just so cool. It’s part of the charm.”
How many different flavors do you make?
“When we first started to make the fudge, we served about 70 flavors. Now, we’ve narrowed it down to people’s favorites and always feature one flavor of the month. We offer about 25 different flavors.”
What’s the most popular flavor?
“Believe it or not, the most popular flavor is chocolate. Just plain, simple chocolate. Next, is the chocolate peanut butter and then the chocolate walnut. Most of our flavors really sell. It’s hard to keep them in stock. In the summer, we sell 180 pounds of fudge a week! We also give free samples which is great for folks to decide what they want—whether it’s the chewy praline or the raspberry ripple.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the fudge making process?
“It’s an all-day thing. We cook the fudge for a certain amount of time. We start with the base of vanilla and then add to that. If we’re going to make the raspberry ripple, we would add the raspberry ingredients that go into it. If we’re going to make chocolate walnut, we would add the walnuts. We get our ingredients from our local distributor, but our fudge…well that’s a secret that I can’t share.”
Is fudge sold year-round?
“It’s a seasonal treat. We usually start in May and keep on making it through the end of October.”
It’s obvious that you enjoy what you do. What do you love most about your job?
“I see how excited people are for the fudge—to take it home to their families, to bite into it right there with their group, to ship it to a loved one so they, too, can share in the experience. Whether it’s a first-timer or an avid returner, I know it’s going to be a happy experience. I love to greet and meet people, and the fudge counter is a great way to do that. People are always curious about how we make it and the history behind it. I’d love to teach a class on it!
“I also love my family’s history with the area. My grandfather retired from the general store and my mom used to ride the train here to Newhalem. I can even remember visiting my grandfather here at the store which is amazing for me. So, my job means a lot to me. To be rooted here and to have that sense of history just adds to my experience.”
Thank you, Kelly, for providing a sneak peek of the “Skagit Magic” one can expect when visiting the General Store, a cornerstone of Seattle City Light’s Skagit River Hydroelectric Project which provides clean, low-cost, renewable power to Seattle. To learn more or to place an order of delicious fudge, click here.