The oldest sense of this word is the verb, meaning to cobble together something in a makeshift manner, to adjust accounts or numbers to make them conform to requirements. It is a variant of the verb to fadge, meaning to fit, to make suitable. Fadge is of unknown etymology and dates to at least 1578. From George Whetstone’s The Right Excellent Historye of Promos and Cassandra from that year:
In good soothe, Sir, this match fadged frim.
The form fudge may date to as early as 1674 when it apparently appears in Nathaniel Fairfax’s A Treatise of the Bulk and Selvedge of the World (this appearance, however, may be a misprint for fridged, meaning to move, to fidget):
They may...be...fudged up into such a smirkish liveliness, as may last as long as the Summers warmth holds on.
The interjection meaning nonsense, humbug dates to 1766. It probably comes, in equal parts, from the verb and from an inarticulate grunt. From Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield from that year:
The very impolite behaviour of Mr. Burchell, who...at the conclusion of every sentence would cry out Fudge!
The name of the candy comes from the verb, a reference to it being easy to make. It is relatively recent, only dating to the waning years of the 19th century. From the 1893 yearbook of Vassar College, the Vassarion:
What is it that we love the best,
Of all the candies east or west,
Although to make them is a pest?
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton