Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I have discovered a locally produced fudge from a quaint sweet shop on Smithville’s square.
I’m not talking about some ordinary fudge mass produced in a factory. The handmade fudge prepared by Nellie’s Sweet Shoppe is so much better and made with real cream and butter, a trademark for exceptional fudge.
The shop was started by Harley and Jackie Morlock along with their daughter Ronna Mack in 2007. The store was named for and dedicated to their daughter/sister Janelle (Nellie) Morlock Tebbs, who brought them all together in the small town of Smithville.
Ronna tells me that in August 2007, she and her parents had lunch at the Main Cup Café on Main Street, in downtown Smithville. As they were driving away, they noticed that a cute red-and-white storefront had recently been vacated.
Ronna mentioned that it looked like it should be a candy store. … They opened Nellie’s Sweet Shoppe five weeks later, on Oct. 4, 2007!
Ronna’s parents relocated the previous year from Minnesota to Smithville. Ronna moved with her husband, Tom, and their two youngest sons, Benjamin and Andrew, from southern Johnson County several months later.
The reason they moved was to spend quality time with Janelle and her family — husband, Tracy, and daughter, Blake Emily — during Janelle’s terminal bout with malignant melanoma.
They began to do research into how to open a sweet shop, what products to carry, where to find equipment and supplies, costs, etc. They witnessed miracles on a daily basis.
They decided to name the shop in honor of Janelle. Many of her friends called her Nellie and she had a wonderful motto that she signed all of her emails with: “Take time to enjoy each day.” That sign is written above the front door as a reminder of her “sweet influence” in their lives.
As for the delicious fudge handmade each day, Harley prepares batch after batch of it from their own family recipe including chocolate, chocolate walnut, peanut butter, maple, mint, and seasonal flavors such as amaretto, raspberry, Irish cream, jelly donut, creme brûlée, root beer, Snickers, peppermint stick, egg nog, key lime, pumpkin pie, praline, dark chocolate sea salt and cappuccino, just to name a few. Wow, this is something you do not see any longer. The owner of the store making a homemade fudge. Now that’s hands-on.
At Nellie’s, they want you to remember when you visited a favorite sweet shop in days gone by, and at the same time help create wonderful memories for another generation.
And for the record, it’s not just about the fudge at Nellie’s. They have a wide selection of “remember when” candies: chocolate-dipped strawberries, haystacks, saltwater taffy, butter toffee, dipped pretzels, caramel apples, smirtles, peanut butter cups, truffles, cookies, Grandma Hazel’s oven baked caramel corn and ice cream.
So this Valentine’s Day, stop by the store at 115 E. Main St. in Smithville and take a trip down memory lane, purchase some fudge and candy for your loved ones and friends and “take time to enjoy each day” like Nellie’s family is doing each day.
Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.