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Have you checked out Uranus? It's growing

Valerie Schremp Hahn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Travel News

"Honestly, I was the only one who believed in it," says Keen of the factory. He says he's "a crazy 50" with the mentality of an eighth-grade boy. "We couldn't have called this Fat Bob's Candy Store and do what we're doing today."

As soon as the Uranus billboards went up, even before they could make any fudge, people streamed in to buy T-shirts from Uranus. They tittered. They snorted.

Keen got his chocolatier certification online, and he made 1,200 pounds of fudge the first month. People came to Uranus and bought it.

Now, he's laughing.

"This thing has blown up way more than I ever expected," he said in his deep, raspy voice.

They expect 250,000 visitors to the fudge factory this year.

"It's edgy," says a mild-mannered Beth Wiles, executive director of the Pulaski County Tourism bureau. She recommends Uranus to travelers who wander into the visitors center, but sizes them up a bit first. "There is a segment of the traveling public that just thinks it's hilarious. But yeah, he's a great marketer."

The Uranus Fudge Factory offers 18 flavors a day, along with a variety of candies, snacks, rubber seagull masks, wooden hillbilly cellphones, and Uranus Farms jellies and jams.

"Thank you for picking Uranus!" the cheerful cashiers call out as customers chortle and stream into the parking lot.

Keen has since opened Mission Outpost Outdoor outfitters in Uranus, shooting and archery ranges, a food truck park and a competitive axe-throwing facility called the Axehole. Keen saw axe throwing online on a Friday, flew to Philadelphia to try it on a Sunday and started building the range on Monday. Competitive axe-throwing is like darts, but choppier.

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