by Elizabeth Granger
The new guy in town came bearing sweets. And more than a modicum of hutzpah.
Welcome to Uranus Fudge Factory & General Store in Anderson. It’s out of this world – no butts about it. A delightful, laugh-out-loud double entendre.
Think Wall Drug in South Dakota or Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in Michigan or the American Sign Museum in Ohio, but on steroids. With an owner who knows how to successfully bring in the hordes with outrageous claims, juvenile humor, eye-popping displays, and never-ending puns. All backed by delectable sweets.
Louie Keen, aka mayor of Uranus, began this goofiness along Route 66 in south-central Missouri in 2015. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere with a small population base. And then, Eureka! Keen found Anderson, Indiana, and the millions of potential patrons in Indianapolis and its environs. This guy is energized. On a mission. Convinced he’s creating a gotta’-visit destination that will draw crowds from far beyond the Hoosier border.
It worked in Missouri. Keen initially planned an outdoor store, but delays didn’t mix well with his impatience. So he decided it would be fudge. In a town he’d already unofficially renamed. “We’d already started calling it Uranus,” he says.
He made all the fudge. “In the first month, I made 1200 pounds of fudge. Next month, 1300. It just blew up. And somehow I became a Fudge Packer.”
Now in Indiana as well as in Missouri.
Yes, it starts with taste. The fudge comes in a variety of flavors; the six most popular are chocolate, chocolate pecan, peanut butter and chocolate, toffee bar, dark chocolate, and blueberry cheesecake. Add chocolates – including Uranus’ trademarked “turdles.”
Then, ice cream in an ice cream parlor with outrageously colorful tables, chairs, décor. With the milk fat content eventually going up to 20%.
And apparel that includes T-shirts with messages like “Straight Outta Uranus” and “The Best Fudge Comes from Uranus.”
“It’s really about the experience,” says director of marketing Tiffany Baker – aka the deputy mayor. “You’ll see something you’ve never seen before.”
Dinosaurs are in the parking lot. The all-knowing Zoltar stands near the entrance, ready to dispense fortunes. Even the website elicits laughs. Scroll down near the bottom to find, “What are you doing all the way down here? Get up there and buy some stuff already!”
But it’s not all goofiness. The food is real, and real good. The business believes in helping its community. A pollinator park is on the drawing board.
“I’m not near done,” Keen says. “I remember, as a kid, just being so enthralled (with the unusual and the goofy). That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s for the kids.”