Unintentionally indulging in a whole box of Ryba’s Fudge comes with a unique feeling of regret mixed with a certain nostalgia for the simple charms of Mackinac Island.
Now, thanks to a partnership with Classic Roots Farm, eating a whole box of fudge could make the consumer feel really, really high, too.
Ryba’s Fudge has teamed up with the marijuana grower and producer Classic Roots Farm to offer a line of cannabis-infused fudge, gummies, chocolate bars and, soon, caramels.
“Mackinac is just a special place,” said Jill Gilpin, vice president of business development and marketing for Classic Roots Farm in Kalkaska. “To be able to offer a temporary mental vacation to Mackinac Island just by taking a little slice of cannabis-infused fudge is really ideal for anyone.”
Still, it’s not an idea Todd Callewaert, president of Ryba’s Fudge Shops, was always on board with. His longtime friend David Levy owns Classic Roots Farm and approached Callewaert three years ago about partnering on a line of marijuana-infused products.
Callewaert said no, as someone who doesn’t personally consume marijuana. But it got him thinking. Years ago, before marijuana was legal in Michigan, he helped out a family member with cancer by buying an edible for them in the basement of a country club.
“It kind of made me a criminal,” he said. “That’s not right. If (it helped) the person that got it from me, I can deal with that.”
Ryba’s Fudge customers were also telling him that there were no decent-tasting edibles out there.
A year ago, Levy and Callewaert started working together on the line of cannabis-infused products, called Ryba’s Roots.
It wasn’t as simple, though, as infusing marijuana into fudge.
Callewaert said they started by dosing a regular batch of fudge but when they tested the batch, it didn’t homogenize and different pieces had different amounts of THC — the main psychoactive compound in marijuana — in them.
They went back to the drawing board, and after making about 80 batches, they found a winner that uses a different recipe than regular Ryba’s fudge and is cooked at a lower temperature.
Callewaert, who tried a non-cannabis-infused version of the fudge, said it’s really good but it won’t be replacing the regular fudge recipe, which hasn’t changed much in 75 years.
“It’s been a long haul between getting the dosage right and the hoops to jump through with the testing,” he said. Callewaert also said they spent a long time designing the packaging to make sure kids wouldn’t think it was candy.
Ryba’s Fudge Shops on Mackinac Island won’t sell cannabis-infused products. Mackinac Island doesn’t allow marijuana sales on the island, and cannabis needs to be sold through licensed dispensaries.
Ryba’s Roots — which includes five different flavors of edibles (10 milligrams of THC per gummy for a total of 100 mg of THC per package), chocolate fudge (50 mg of THC per package) and a milk chocolate bar (5 THC mg per piece for a total of 100 mg of THC per package) — are sold at Nature’s Remedy and LIV in Ferndale, Quality Roots in Battle Creek, Jailhouse Cannabis Co. in Mancelona and LIV in Lansing. Prices start around $15 for the fudge, $10 per package for the gummies and $15 per chocolate bar.
Ryba’s Roots will soon be sold at more dispensaries and at Classic Roots Farm’s first retail location in Owosso, about 40 miles northeast of Lansing, set to open this summer. That retail location will have an “extended delivery model,” Gilpin said.
While many aspects of the fudge and the buying experience for Ryba’s Roots are unique, one important component has stayed the same: the small wooden knife used to slice off a piece (or several) of fudge.
“You get to slice off as little or as much as you’d like so that you’re really feeling like you’re getting it right on the island,” Gilpin said.
Contact Adrienne Roberts: [email protected]