Literature / Fudge

The Fudge Series is a series of children's books written by Judy Blume. The books are a general mixture of Slice of Life and comedy, following the protagonist Peter Hatcher navigating the trials and tribulations of boyhood alongside his Annoying Younger Sibling Farley, aka the eponymous "Fudge", their mother Anne, father Warren, and later on, baby sister Tootsie.

Books in the series:

  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972)
  • Superfudge (1980)
  • Fudge-a-Mania (1990)
  • Double Fudge (2002)

Also related is Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), which focuses on Peter's neighbor Sheila Tubman with only a brief appearance by Peter.

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Art: In Fudge-a-Mania, baby Tootsie accidentally walks through spilled paint and makes little footprints across one of Jimmy's father's canvases. He decides to make a series of "Baby Feet" paintings with her as a result. It gets a callback in Double Fudge, where Peter's family gets invited to a showing of Mr. Fargo's work, including the now wildly popular Baby Feet paintings.
    • Peter even muses that Tootsie should at least get a commission since technically she's the one making the paintings.
    • There's also Anita's Anger, an abstract painting based around when Jimmy's father's (now-ex) wife angrily threw paint at him, missed and hit a blank canvas.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the family goes to a restaurant, and Fudge annoys everyone by misbehaving. Peter's father shouts at him, and Fudge shouts "Eat it or wear it!" and dumps his dish of peas over his head. Peter, who was previously annoyed and embarrassed by his brother, can't stop laughing.
  • Amazon Chaser: Peter's first crush, Joanna, is described as being significantly taller than him.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Fudge. To a lesser extent, Tootsie, but she isn't the focus of the series, she's still a baby, and Peter is extremely relieved that she isn't another Fudge. Mini, although he isn't a sibling, acts this way towards Fudge, doing several things that mirrored things Fudge did to Peter when he was younger.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Art gallery owner Beverly Mueller was a fan of Frank Fargo's work long before meeting (and later getting engaged to) him
  • Berserk Button: Fudge will only respond to his nickname. His initial kindergarten teacher discovers this when, after she insists on calling him by one of his legal names, he kicks her in the shin and climbs on top of a shelf in protest, resulting in his transfer to the other kindergarten class. Peter sometimes pushes the button.
  • Big Applesauce: played straight in Fourth Grade Nothing and Double Fudge which take place exclusively in New York City, except for a brief trip to DC in the latter. Largely averted in the other three which take place mostly in Tarrytown, NY, Princeton, NJ and Southwest Harbor, ME.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Peter has a few moments where he willingly helps Fudge.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: Turtle, even though he slobbers quite a lot. In the television adaptation, he's a Saint Bernard; the books don't specify a breed other than that he's large.
  • Book Ends: Lampshaded. The first book ends with Fudge eating Peter's pet turtle. The last book has Mini, Fudge's cousin and Expy, eating Fudge's tooth. Peter points out the similarity in both of the situations.
  • Black Best Friend: Jimmy in the adaptations.
  • Butt-Monkey: Peter.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Fudge fills this role, mostly because Tootsie is still a baby. Among his exploits are making a mess in a restaurant; jumping off of the jungle gym (and getting Peter in trouble); scribbling all over the school project that Peter, Sheila, and Jimmy had worked on for weeks; and then (after Peter persuaded his parents to let him get a lock on the door of his room) managing to unlock Peter's bedroom door and eat his turtle. Later, in Fudge-a-mania, he mocks Peter about it and then has the gall to get upset when Peter pours his punch over Fudge's head.
  • Breaking Bad News Gently: Dr. Cone, the only medical professional who doesn't laugh when Fudge swallows Dribble, has to tell Peter that Dribble is dead. He does it by suggesting that Peter get another turtle.
  • Catch-Phrase: Fudge's "Eat it or wear it" in Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing and Uncle Feather's "Bonjour, stupid!" in Superfudge.
  • Comic-Book Time: Despite the decade-long gaps between books, each book is set in the time it was written (although newer editions of some of the books have been revised to update the cultural references), and the characters only seem to age a year between each book. Peter goes from talking to the elevator operator to instant messaging from the fourth to seventh grade.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing has Peter being given a picture dictionary, which is more suitable for a preschooler than the preteen that he is. Ugh. At least he has enough tact to pretend to be enthused. Fudge, on the other hand, brings out their old copy of the same book; then when it happens again at his birthday party, he throws it across the room.
  • Delivery Stork: Referenced in Superfudge, where Peter's grandmother is dismayed that his parents told four-year-old Fudge the truth about how the baby got inside Mommy's belly. In her day, the stork was the standard Lie To Children.
  • The Diaper Change: In the last chapter of Superfudge, Peter is forced to change his baby sister Tootsie per his mother's request. Despite his initial disgust at the task, it becomes worth it when Tootsie speaks her first words during the change.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Fudge kicked his teacher for calling him by his real name.
  • Dinner with the Boss: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing has Fudge wreak havoc at one of these (with a client of Warren's advertising agency), and it's implied that the agency lost the account because of this, though the abysmal sales for the drink Juicy-O were also responsible. The connection is made more direct in the TV adaptation, Superfudge.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Of a sort. After Fudge eats Dribble, Peter's pet turtle, in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, their parents buy Peter a dog - whom Peter names Turtle.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter has elements of this. When his parents nickname his new baby sister Tootsie, after having already nicknamed his little brother Fudge, he dryly wonders (to himself) if what they really wanted was a candy store.
  • December–December Romance: In Fudge-a-Mania, Peter's widowed grandmother marries Sheila's widowed grandfather, making the archenemies step-cousins. They agree to still politely hate each other, though.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Peter's dad didn't consider the ramifications of hosting a client at his apartment, especially with a mischievous toddler who can get out of his crib without a problem.
    • Sheila makes a bad move by starting the cooties game with Peter and Jimmy when she's supposed to babysit Fudge. Ironically, she's the Karma Houdini in the situation, as Peter's mother blames him for what happens.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Fudge absolutely will not answer to his real name, Farley (and who can blame him?). It's a bit of a Berserk Button, in fact.
    • Fudge's kindergarten teacher is an inversion of this, and she refuses point-blank to call him "Fudge". At least Fudge has the excuse of being a little kid, but a grown woman, especially a teacher of all things, should be more accepting of a child wanting to be referred to by the nickname they have always used.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked several times:
    • Fudge attempts to liven up the evening after party with the Juicy-O couple by first showing them Peter's turtle (which Peter has told him several times not to touch) and then scaring them with a gorilla mask. This is the first time Warren loses it and tells Fudge that he's not funny.
    • When Fudge swallows Dribble, and Mom realizes that Fudge isn't joking, she has a Freak-Out and immediately takes him to the hospital. The problem is that everyone laughs when she tells them "My baby swallowed a turtle." This 'everyone' includes the 911 operator, everyone on the elevator ride downstairs including Fudge, and the paramedics in the ambulance. Peter's mother isn't amused for obvious reasons, and Peter isn't amused because no one seems to care that his turtle got eaten.
    • Henry isn't amused when Peter jokingly orders Turtle to sic Sheila, since Sheila has a phobia of dogs which she hides by claiming that Turtle is stinky.
  • Embarrassing Damp Sheets: In Superfudge, the now-middle child Fudge begins wetting the bed (and his pants) because there is a new baby in the house and he wants to be a baby too.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Peter sees Fudge and Tootsie's nicknames as this. Warren has to deal with the fact that his long-lost cousin Howie still refers to him with his childhood nickname, Tubby, which ironically would better describe Howie in the present.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Peter's parents have one of him as a toddler, naked and holding a broom.
  • Everybody Knew Already: In Superfudge, Peter is asked by his parents to humor Fudge's belief in Santa, despite never having believed himself. After receiving his coveted red bicycle, Fudge confides to Peter that he's never believed, either, and pretends for their parents' sake.
  • Exact Words: Fudge describes his myna bird, Uncle Feather, as having a "yellow nose," and refuses to call it a bill. This leads to more than one conversation with a confused adult. One character even assumes that Uncle Feather is Fudge's actual uncle.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: While most of the books in the series cover about 3-6 months in the lives of the characters, Fudge-A-Mania takes place over the course of only three weeks. Inverted with Superfudge which covers nearly two years of the Hatcher family's lives.
  • Family Theme Naming: Farley Drexel "Fudge" Hatcher appropriately gets a baby sister nicknamed "Tootsie".
  • First Pet Story: Peter caring for Dribble in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
  • Food Slap: In Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge becomes so irritating with his food strike and his becoming "the family dog" that Warren takes him into the bathroom, sits him in the tub, and dumps a whole bowl of cereal over Fudge's head. From there comes Fudge's favorite expression, "Eat it or wear it". Peter later does this in Fudge-a-mania when Fudge mocks him about eating Dribble, Peter's pet turtle, in the first book. And Fudge has the gall to get upset.
  • Foreign Queasine: In Superfudge, Peter and a friend collect worms for a neighbor, and speculate that she might eat them. This is confirmed when she gives them cookies into which ground-up worms (for protein) have been blended. Later, it's revealed that this was a Halloween counter-prank, and there were no worms in the cookies.
  • Foul Mouthed Parrot: A G-rated version. Fudge is very proud of his myna bird, Uncle Feather, who can speak French. Any time someone addresses the bird, he responds by saying, "Bonjour, Stupid."
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Grandma calls Peter by his full name, Peter Warren Hatcher, when he asks if his turtle survived being swallowed alive by Fudge. As if he shouldn't have asked the question in the first place.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The books were edited in post-2002 reprints to, among other things, replace references to The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and The Electric Company (1971) with references to the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, and replace vinyl record players with CD players.
  • Girls Have Cooties: In Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Sheila Tubman teases Peter Hatcher by touching him and saying he's got the cooties, even up to the fourth grade. It's after Peter's brother Fudge falls off the jungle gym set, thinking he's a bird, and loses his top two front teeth that she finally stops with the cooties.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Peter spends much of the books complaining about Fudge, but he does not take it well when Fudge's kindergarten teacher claims that there's something wrong with him. (It's also that Peter knows that his parents were weird to nickname his brother Fudge.)
    "There's nothing wrong with him!"
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Subverted with Juicy-O, a fruit juice. This excuse is put off as bunk when Peter's dad brings home a crate of the stuff, which Peter only drinks to make his dad happy, though his dad later reveals that he hates it as well. The stuff also doesn't do well in stores; apparently the combination of several different fruit flavors doesn't taste very good.
  • Jerk Ass: Daniel, in Superfudge, is a spoiled picky brat who invites himself to meals multiple times in the book.
  • Karma Houdini: Fudge. It really says something when most of the series' Awesome Moments consist of the adults actually punishing him. May be justified to a certain extent, given that he's a toddler, and little kids do tend to do stupid things on a regular basis.
    • The worst instance was near the end of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing where he eats Dribble, Peter's pet turtle. While everyone is (understandably) worried about Fudge, no one seems to consider how Peter feels on the subject except for Dr. Cone. Peter eventually gets some acknowledgment for "being a good sport" throughout the whole thing and is given a dog, but Fudge is never punished in any way. Then again, being in the hospital for days while the doctors repeatedly feed you prune juice and other laxatives to make you poop isn't entirely unlike a punishment, especially with the ensuing threat of an operation.
    • The trope is averted in later books as Fudge gets older and his bad behavior is taken more seriously, so he's punished more accordingly.
    • Also averted earlier in Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, when Fudge ruins Peter's class project poster about transportation and Fudge gets a spanking for it. When Fudge later breaks into Peter's room again and cuts his hair into Dribble's bowl, he gets a trip to the barber while Peter gets a chain latch.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: For every book after the first one, Peter having a dog named "Turtle" spoils the ending of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, where Fudge eats Peter's beloved pet turtle Dribble, prompting his parents to buy him a dog as a replacement, with Peter naming him "Turtle" as a tribute to his first pet.
  • Men Can't Keep House: In one of the books, Peter's mother has to go away for a week. His father manages to keep house, but just barely and mostly through trial and error.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Izzy the librarian in the movie rendition of Fudge-a-Mania, both for Peter and the viewer.
  • Mocking Sing-Song: Sheila in Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing taunts Peter and his friend Jimmy by singing that they've got the cooties, until they both turn the tables and sing "Sheila's got the cooties!"
  • My Beloved Smother: Anne Hatcher has shades of this, especially around Fudge.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Peter and Fudge receive gifts from friends of their parents. Fudge gets a toy train set. Peter gets a book aimed at children closer to Fudge's age, if not younger, and is in fact a book Fudge already owns. Peter is not impressed.
    • Fudge gets another copy of the book for his birthday. Unlike Peter, who is polite enough to say "Thank you", Fudge gets mad and throws the book across the room.
  • No Sympathy: Subverted. When Fudge eats Peter's turtle, everyone's concerned about him, but not one person comforts Peter over the fact that his pet has been eaten - his grandma even shouts at him when he understandably asks whether or not his turtle is alive. It isn't until after Fudge recovers that Peter's parents thank him for being a good sport about the whole thing and buy him a dog.
    • This trope doesn't occur in the show's version of the incident, where, instead of yelling at Peter, his grandmother sits down with him and explains that Dribble is dead.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: Uncle Feather in Superfudge, while he doesn't pick up actual secrets, learns just enough accidental phrases (and comic timing, apparently) to call his owner's ex-kindergarten teacher "stupid" in front of the entire class.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Peter often tends to come in for this from his parents. Subverted on one occasion, however, when after Fudge and his friend have seriously misbehaved he suggests that his parents confiscate Fudge's new bike. Although Peter's expecting them to all snap "Peter, please!", much to Fudge's horror they actually consider this a good idea and do so.
  • Not So Above It All: Ten-year-old Peter admits to himself that the toy car is brother got for his third birthday does look like a lot of fun. At age twelve, he sees his mother carrying both Tootsie and Fudge and briefly wishes he could be his mother's little boy again.
  • Odd Name Out: After Peter's younger sister "Tootsie" is born, Peter winds up as the only one of the Hatcher children without a candy-themed name, cementing his status as the Only Sane Man of the family.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Fudgenote , and later, baby Tootsienote . Also Cousin Howienote  in Double Fudge.
    • When Fudge loses his top two front teeth, Peter wants to call his brother Fang, but his mother is against it.
  • Only Sane Man: Peter appears this way at least as often as not - though to be fair, the books are almost all from his point of view.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • Fudge gets away with murder (literally, if pets count), while big brother Peter Can't Get Away with Nuthin'. Peter doesn't actually do anything bad, though, and when he considers it, like when he threatens to run away upon hearing his mom is pregnant, his parents can usually talk him down. However, it's shown that his parents know when to draw the line when Fudge goes too far (like ruining Peter's art project for school and their mother punishes the former with spanking).
    • Ironically, once Tootsie is born, the favoritism seems to shift more to her, and the adults start taking Fudge's bad behavior more seriously and punish him accordingly for it. For example, when Fudge and his friend Daniel attempt to run away from home after Peter refuses to take them both on a picnic he's having with his friend, the parents punish the younger boys by taking their bikes away for a month, at Peter's suggestion.
  • Parents as People: Peter's parents are nice, but often butt heads with their sons over various things (moving temporarily to Princeton, having a third child, etc). Peter's mother in particular is often shown blaming Peter for Fudge's actions, and the way she fawns over Fudge in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing after he's hospitalized for eating Peter's turtle is downright sickening when you consider that the kid did it to himself.
  • Potty Emergency: In Superfudge, Peter briefly has one of these when Fudge is taking his time on the only available toilet. Peter's tempted to lift the little boy off the can, but has been told to encourage the imperfectly toilet-trained Fudge to use it, so doesn't dare; he gets so desperate that he considers weeing on a large potted houseplant. Luckily, Fudge finishes in time, and is duly impressed by how copiously his big brother can urinate.
  • Precocious Crush:
    Fudge: "Pete got dizzy from Izzynote  at the library!"
  • Pushover Parents: Subverted with Warren and Anne. While they are much more lenient with Fudge (which is sort of justified, considering his age) than they are with Peter, they do know when to lay down the law if Fudge goes too far. As Fudge gets older, they do start to take his bad behavior more seriously and punish him accordingly.
  • Race Lift: The race of Peter's best friend Jimmy is never stated in the text but the illustrations in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing seem to show a Caucasian. In the film and subsequent TV show, he's black.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Peter's parents in Superfudge, at least when dealing with Peter. When Peter hears that his mother is pregnant, he immediately loses his temper, packs a gym bag, and threatens to run away. Do his parents freak out? No. Do they scold him? No. They ask him if he's thought of where he'll go, suggest that he eat dinner first and think it over, and promise that the new baby won't be another Fudge. Later on, when he threatens to run away again, on hearing Fudge will be attending his school in Princeton, Anne jokingly asks if he wants her to pack him a peanut butter sandwich. When Fudge and his friend Danny disappear to bike to a faraway bakery without telling anyone, however, everyone is angry at them, and Warren actually does lock up their bikes for a month at Peter's suggestion.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Peter is grieved and insulted when Dr. Cone suggests that he get another turtle to replace Dribble to replace the latter. His parents instead get him a puppy after Fudge swallows Dribble, since he's always wanted a dog.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In Superfudge, neither Peter nor his parents have any idea where Fudge learned how to spell "Maine," and trying to get a straight answer out of the four-year-old would have been an exercise in futility.
  • The Scapegoat: Peter, often. One example is Fudge falling and knocking out his two front teeth in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. This is somehow Peter's fault, even though Sheila was babysitting Fudge at the time. To be fair, his mother does apologize for it later after she cools down and admits she was in the wrong.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Discussed. People have mentioned that one day, Sheila Tubman will be quite beautiful. Peter is convinced otherwise.
  • Shout-Out: In Double Fudge, Sheila mentions having read a book about a girl who doesn't speak after she has a traumatic event occur to her.
    • In Fudge-a-Mania, Fudge becomes friends with Mitzi, the protagonist of the children's book Tell Me a Mitzi. This prompts him to write his own book, Tell Me a Fudge; he gives the only copy to his grandmother as a wedding gift.
    • For reasons never really explained, Fudge think's it's bad luck to say you know who's real name out loud. He seems to be confusing the protagonist with the villain.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Sheila; later analysis shows that she's insecure and a bit cowardly, and well aware of it. Her Small Name Big Ego routine is partly a defense mechanism.
  • Swallowed a Fly: In Fudge-a-Mania, Peter believes he might have done this while riding to Bob's bicycle shop. This event makes him an honorary member of Bob's "I Swallowed a Fly" or ASAF club.
  • Swallowed Whole: In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Peter's pet turtle Dribble is swallowed alive by Fudge. It doesn't survive of course, but Peter's first question upon learning that the turtle is out of Fudge's system is if it's alive or dead, as he'd hoped this trope might apply.
  • The Stoic: Frank Fargo is described as this. His emotional distance is implied to have been a factor in his divorce. Tootsie, however, can make him smile.
  • The Talk: In Superfudge, Fudge gets a book from his parents explaining the birds and the bees and proceeds to share his newfound knowledge with everyone he meets. He even tells a pregnant woman on the subway, "I know what's inside you, and I know how it got there too."
  • Theme Naming: Lampshaded by Peter when he notes that he now has siblings nicknamed "Fudge" and "Tootsie". He openly wonders how he got off so lucky.
    Maybe what my parents really wanted was a candy factory.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: In Superfudge, the Hatcher family is constantly annoyed by Fudge's friend Daniel. At one point, Daniel looks ready to invite himself to stay for dinner with them, but Mrs. Hatcher tricks him into leaving by pretending that they're having peas and onions with their dinner (two foods that he hates). Peter's cousins become this in Double Fudge.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe. Fudge-a-Mania has Peter and Fudge's little sister accidentally getting into Mr. Fargo's paint and wandering over his canvas, leaving behind little blue footprints. Mr. Fargo thinks it looks stunning and wants her to help him make more paintings. The paintings later turn out to be a huge hit, enough of one that the Fargos can move out of their one-bedroom apartment and into a new one in Soho.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: As noted above, Peter's grandmother and Sheila's grandfather get married in the course of the series. Their wedding attire consists of matching black and white sweatsuits.
  • The Unfavorite: Peter often feels like this.
  • Unfortunate Names: Farley Drexel Hatcher?!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Anne Hatcher's desire to return to school to study art history, either at Princeton or NYU, is mentioned several times in Superfudge, but in Double Fudge, she has returned to her career as a dental hygienist.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Fudge. He kicked Sheila when she told him he'd eventually get used to his baby sister, and kicked his teacher when she calls him by his real name.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: While Peter and Sheila have made it clear that they'll always hate each other, they do seem to hang around each other regardless. Pete's relationship with Jimmy Fargo also borders on this.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sheila's fear of dogs, which comes to the fore once Peter gets Turtle, but then later gets turned sideways when she gets a dog of her own. Apparently, Jake (her dog, who is female) is the exception to the rule.

Alternative Title(s): Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Fudge A Mania, Double Fudge

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/Fudge