Fudging Tradition : Arnold's Candies, 288 E. Main St., Peru, Ind. 46970, (317) 473-5363. Billed when shipping. Prices do not include shipping and handling. :

For Cole Porter, chocolate fudge with pecans was the tops. The songwriter was so crazy about the confection that, until his death in 1964, he ordered 12 pounds a month from Arnold's Candies in his hometown of Peru, Ind.

Gretchen and Louis Arnold began making candy in 1914. And the current owners, Jane and Bob Haskett, who bought the business 33 years ago, haven't changed a thing--they wouldn't dare. Says Jane Haskett, a Peru native whose grandparents sold butter and cream to the Arnolds: "Mrs. Arnold wouldn't even let us buy the shop until we could make everything to her satisfaction."

Besides the rich, creamy fudge, there are also caramels, creams, toffees and turtles--the shop uses more than three tons of chocolate a year. The last time I called, Jane Haskett had been dipping every day since September, getting ready for Christmas.

Candies range from $4.80 to $7 per pound. A one-pound box of fudge is $5.60, a pound of caramels is $6.25. You may want to order an extra box or two. As Cole Porter put it--possibly about Arnold's fudge: "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To."

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