Fudgie the Whale was sitting over a plate of croque monsieur when I entered Buvette on Grove Street, a dish that is not only a personal favorite, but a necessary one that helps him maintain his now-famous physique. He looks distant, a little haggard, and in the moment I watch him from the door, he favors his Negroni and staring out the window over the dish that is going cold in front of him.
The restaurant is only about 20 miles from where Fudgie was born in Yonkers, but a world away from those humble beginnings. Now a household name, it seems everyone in the world has wanted a piece of him over the years. He's embraced the success like a real pro from day one, even during the lower points.
Fudgie has admittedly had it pretty good, thanks in large part to his naturally sweet demeanor, but some have still tried to knock him down. He's been repeatedly accused of ripping off Cookie Puss's mold (an accusation that has never been true), and in the 1980s he was attacked by David Letterman, who went so far as to accuse him of being a dog. Fudgie is now entering his 40th year, and he's ready to talk, I soon find out.
Is it true you were born in a hotel in Yonkers? Can you tell me about that? Yes, the Carvel Inn. A training center and facility for research and development. It was complete with a store counter prototype. Tom Carvel developed all his characters there before they were introduced into the shoppes.
Is it true you were thisclose to being a goldfish? The story goes that my dad, Tom Carvel, tasked his team with making a fish cake for Father’s Day. So many dads love to fish, don’t they? Struck by genius, as usual, he realized that the flavor had to be fudge and frankly, whales are the best. I don’t think I would have liked it very much if I was a goldfish.
You started off as a cake for dads, when did you become a cake for everyone? Yes, I was born in 1977 with ‘A Whale of a Dad’ as my original tagline. I started becoming a cake for everyone when people couldn’t get enough of my delicious crunchies and fudge topping! Today we sell more than 50,000 Fudgie the Whale cakes every year.
Do you know the space alien Cookie Puss? Have you met? You mean my best friend?! Of course I know Cookie Puss, he saves me my favorite spot in the freezer. There was actually a theory out there that Cookie Puss and I were the same mold. I know sometimes when you hang out with someone too much you start dressing alike, but we’re not the same shape.
Are you more popular than Cookie Puss? Wait, is he going to read this? I don’t want to hurt his feelings… but YES I am. [Over 50,000 Fudgie cakes are sold a year.]
You share a mold with Santa, are there any other cakes you share one with? Well... not yet but there are rumors... do you watch Mystery Science Theater 3000? They have some ideas on how else to use my mold with #CarvelCakeClock. The money bag is my favorite.
Do you come in any other colors—can people request you in, say, a Millennial Pink? Meet my girlfriend—Ms. Fudgie! She comes in pink! I don’t particularly care for pink but that isn’t to say that people haven’t changed my eye color or gotten creative in the past.
Fudgie's publicist later tells me that Ms. Fudgie was created "to keep him company... after noticing that Fudgie was getting a little lonely."
In the '80s, Letterman said you were really a dog, any truth to that? I think David and I should settle this one, but to set the record straight—I’m a whale. This is 100% pure fudge.
What is your most memorable moment of the past 40 years? Oh wow! That’s a hard one! I’ve been lucky enough to meet famous friends, like William Shatner, Kelly Ripa, Patton Oswalt, among others. Though the memories that are most special to me are celebrating with our Carvel guests for their special occasions.
What are you planning for your big 40th birthday? I’m glad you asked because in lieu of birthday gifts I’m asking people to donate to a marine life preservation nonprofit, Save The Whales. You can find the fun prizes and the link to donate at Carvel.com/fortyyearsoffudgie. I also welcome my friends to share memories with the hashtag #fortyyearsoffudgie.
Turning 40 is a big deal for humans—are you feeling any existential dread over this? Dread? Certainly not! Birthdays are my favorite! I am always getting invited to parties, which keeps me young.
Okay, any regrets? None really come to mind.
This isn't really making you relatable, to be honest. How about concerns—any worries about being replaced by a younger cake mold? People still find me irresistible and I'm at the top of my food chain.