By day, Robin Burdette’s job is in cybersecurity, but after work hours in her hometown, she is affectionately known as “The Fudge Lady.”
Burdette leads an RDTE cybersecurity team as a contractor for the Department of Defense. RDTE is an acronym for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.
“Fudge is way more fun,” Burdett explains with a smile. “My granny was my inspiration. She made fudge on her kitchen stove, so I wanted to carry on some of the same traditions. She was the most positive, energetic person I knew and loved to make candy and fudge, especially peanutbutter flavor fudge.” Making fudge was her love-language.
Not only is Burdette carrying on her granny’s traditional love for fudge, but she also conveys a positive, energetic persona that inspires others. Again, this year, with the help of many volunteers, the Fudge Lady will be donating a one-half-pound box of fudge to every Veteran whose name is submitted to receive the gift of fudge. The Veterans’ fudge boxes are dressed up with a blue ribbon and gift tags with the message, “Honoring all Who Served.”
Burdett says Veterans have a special place in her life and believes it is important to celebrate Veterans in all communities. As a former active-duty Navy, and later in civil service for the Army, Burdette says, “I believe Veterans should be celebrated as they are important to the community. Veterans tend to come out of service and still serve in their communities. They become our nurses, teachers, doctors, police officers, firefighters, etc.”
Beginning five years ago, The Fudge Lady had personally delivered fudge to veterans she knew, driving all day long to complete the deliveries on Veterans Day. Then three years ago, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office offered to help with the deliveries. She started out delivering about 140 boxes of fudge to veterans, but the demand has expanded to 400 this year.
“This year our veterans’ delivery areas are from Roanoake to Grayson County including Giles, Montgomery, Salem, Radford, Caroll, Wythe and Galax. State police, sheriffs, fire and rescue teams have volunteered to deliver the fudge. I’ve come up with a route, using a routing software, which requires volunteers to only drive about an hour-long route,” explains Burdette.
Since the deliveries are scattered over such a large area this year, Blue Ridge Church, located at 1655 Roanoke St., Christiansburg has volunteered to help sponsor and fund some of the expense. They will be hosting a breakfast for volunteers at 9:30 a.m. on November 11th catered by Chef Loren Hunter.
Originally from Shawsville in Montgomery County, Burdette and her daughter Abbi relocated to Pulaski County so her daughter could attend Snowville Elementary School, a National Blue Ribbon School Award recipient.
Just as many other students, her daughter was struggling with reading. “Pulaski County School System has been phenomenal for my daughter, who is now an A-student and a junior at Pulaski County High School,” she said, noting PCHS has a Cybersecurity curriculum and holds summer camps in cybersecurity for students. Burdette has presented to the students at the cyber camps.
The Blue Ridge Fudge Lady started out making 100 pounds of fudge a week and is now producing 100 pounds of fudge per day. There are 40 delicious flavors of fudge, but some are only offered seasonally. With a team of four employees, they ship fudge all over the country.
Her store was in downtown Pulaski on Main Street, but when COVID hit, they regrouped. She still supplies fudge at the Thee Draper Village location and more recently opened a location in the Village Oaks Shopping Center off Peppers Ferry Drive in Radford.
When asked about why she thinks her business has been so successful, Burdette explains, “I think it is the positivity and community spirit that has definitely made us successful. And a willingness to help other business owners. Pulaski County is striving to create positivity. In a time of negativity, it is the right thing to do.”
If people are interested in nominating a Veteran or volunteering to help deliver fudge to Veterans on Thursday, November 11th (Veterans Day), they can contact The Blue Ridge Fudge Lady at her facebook page or call: 866.953.5378. Additional ways to contact Blue Ridge Fudge Lady:
By DANIELLE REID, The Patriot