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CW Fudge Factory celebrates 5th anniversary with Live Nativity

January 2, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Friday, Dec. 14, marked the fifth anniversary for CW Fudge Factory in Matlacha. The candy store is owned by Carlos Gomez and William Tidball.

"The decision to open a candy store was made after many trips through Matlacha," Tidball said. "There's plenty of art in Matlacha but no edible art. After a lot of consideration, we decided to open a candy store. Not boxed candy we purchase and resell but homemade fudge."

Originally from Pittsburgh Tidball's grandparents and parents had spent many seasons on Pine Island for over 30 years. Before opening the store in 2013, Tidball and Gomez had been traveling from their jobs in Orlando to Pine island on weekends.

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The Live Nativity on Christmas Eve at CW Fudge Factory.

"Every Friday night around midnight we would be driving through Matlacha to our home in Bokeelia," Gomez said. "Then late Sunday afternoon driving back to Orlando where we would work another week so we could afford to come back. One day we thought 'Wouldn't it be great to live here full time?' So we started to try to figure out how we could make that happen."

Tidball was working for Universal Studios and Gomez was working for a bank in Orlando.

"The original idea was to open a cupcake store but at that time the islands already had a cupcake store so the decision was made to create a candy store in Matlacha," Tidball said.

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Tidball knew a friend that was in the candy manufacturing business and that friend offered lessons on how to make homemade fudge.

"My friend taught me everything I needed to know about making candy and fudge and dipping stuff, and tempering chocolates," Tidball said.

Gomez stayed with his job in Orlando for about 8 months as one potential candy store location after another fell through.

"Then one morning we were having breakfast next door (The Perfect Cup), and this location became available," Tidball said. "We wrote a check and the rest is history."

Each year, Gomez and Tidball present a "Live Nativity" during the holidays.

"We're blessed that the community has supported us all these years," Tidball said. "Every day I'm amazed at how we touch peoples lives through 'candy therapy.' The Nativity is our way of giving back to the community. There are people who have no place to go so they can come here on Christmas Eve, enjoy some hot chocolate and enjoy a presentation of the nativity."

Matlacha resident Ljubinka Jandrich said, "You guys are the best and a great addition for the island, we love having you here, especially since it's only a two minute walk from my house."

Gomez and Tidball have expanded their line a lot since they opened five years ago.

"We're very happy with where the store is today," Tidball said. "The only things we're thinking about changing is we're considering enlarging the kitchen to meet the increasing demand."

With over 1,300 square feet of space, Tidball and Gomez offer more than 200 types of fudge and a wide range of gifts many specific to Pine Island and Matlacha.

"We also have gift baskets," Gomez said.

Sampling is easy as there are always a dozen or so flavors on hand: Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate Walnut, Red Velvet Cake, Salted Nut Roll, Snickers, Mint Chocolate Swirl and many more.

CW Fudge Factory is at 4548 Pine Island Road, N.W., (across the street from the Post Office). Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Call 239-283-9911 for additional information.



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