Idaho Gems: Nampa candy store brings hope...

Posted at 11:02 AM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 13:02:57-05
When you live in Idaho, potatoes can make their way into any recipe.
But chocolate?
"We use mashed potatoes. Certainly, it goes into the chocolate," said Deborah Johnson, owner of Sweet Hope, Inc.
Sweet Hope is the home of Spud Fudge.
"We replace over a third of the sugar with potatoes. Potatoes have the starch and the sugars in them, but it also comes with this amazing texture," Johnson said.
The downtown Nampa candy store opened up shop in 2012, but the Spud Fudge story goes years back.
It all started with Sandee Tuck.
"She was making dipped Easter eggs, but it didn't quite turn out the way she wanted. They kind of looked like flat potatoes. So she decorated them into potatoes and then she got the idea of putting Spud Fudge inside," Johnson recalled.
Tuck would travel from her home in Salmon to Christmas shows in the Treasure Valley, selling her Spud Fudge creations. The idea took off.
Soon the Food Network and Martha Stewart were calling for the secret recipe. Tuck actually turned down the Martha Stewart appearance because she didn't want to share the recipe.
Johnson says the special Idaho touch always has customers guessing.
"The first thing they say is, 'Potatoes? Really?' And then the next question is, 'Wow, how do you get that so smooth? So what do you do to the potatoes?' It's just mashed potatoes. And they're all amazed because you don't usually taste it, but you feel the texture of the potatoes," said Johnson.
Tuck passed on her special fudge to Sweet Hope. It's a business with a purpose, bringing hope through chocolate. For every pound of Spud Fudge sold, Sweet Hope donates a pound of pennies back to the community. The store will have a bicycle giveaway for kids in need this Christmas.
"It's showing people that have no hope, that there is hope, and there are people that care," Johnson said.
Spud Fudge is now an ambassador of sorts for Idaho. The candy is shipped all over the world.
And it's all done by hand. The baked potatoes are shaped by hand, dipped and cooled, then topped with white chocolate sour cream and butter. The spuds are wrapped in foil by hand too. 
Sweet Hope is not afraid to try out new flavors.
"Each year we try two or three new ones. We have maple bacon this year, and that's been really popular. It's sort of a sweet and salty kind of thing. So now we have potatoes and bacon, almost a loaded potato," Johnson said.
Sweet Hope is located in downtown Nampa at 113 14th Avenue South. The store is open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Coffee and ice cream are also for sale.
For more information call (208) 615-7434, or visit
Good Morning Idaho's Jillian Garrigues is searching for unique places, people and activities in Southwest Idaho. The Idaho Gems of our community. 
If you have any Idaho Gems you would like Jillian to visit, send her your ideas. She can be reached by email, on Facebook, or Twitter