Yesterday, to celebrate my freedom from spring semester, I decided to finally visit Shane Confectionery. I’d been wanting to visit the candy boutique since my mom had mentioned it to me a few weeks ago.
The magical little boutique is located in the Old City of Philadelphia, right next to Penn’s Landing. Shane’s was established in 1911, and the Berley Brothers took over recently (2011) from the Shane family. It is obvious that the brothers put an immense amount of work into renovating and recreating the magnificence of what must have been the Shane shop of the early 20th century. The brothers themselves take care to match the aesthetics of the shop (or maybe they matched the store to their already-existing aesthetics, I don’t know) and seem like very lovely people (they were actually at the front of the store when I came in, and I knew who they were, but all I said was “hi” and awkwardly walked around the store).
The moment I stepped inside, I was greeted with the most wonderful smell of chocolate and my eyes were delighted wherever they wandered. From vibrant, bright spiral and striped lollipops, to individually wrapped caramels and carefully crafted chocolates, this place was the stuff of my dreams. On the shelves were those large old-fashioned candy jars full of an assortment of wonders. The light blue and white paint of the walls matched the Shane gift boxes perfectly (which were stacked neatly in pyramids throughout the store).
Though I wanted to buy everything in the store, that was not an option, so I bought two small boxes and a few of the really lovely, flat lollipops (they remind me of those dried flowers pressed in glass) . I’m not going to taste them until I get home to California next week, but I’ll be sure to update once I do. Or, I might just go back again this weekend to try some for myself!
While this place is definitely a thoroughly American shop (with its fudge and pretzels), it reminded me of the many wonderful sweet boutiques I visited while in France. In Paris (as in other cities, but I spent the most time in the capital), there are many specialty boutiques that hand make chocolates with care and attention to tradition. I was very spoiled with the myriad chocolatiers-confiseurs that I could find throughout the city of lights. I get frequent episodes of nostalgia and heart-pangs at the thought of them.
Happily, though, I think I’ve found a historic candy shoppe to fill the void in my heart left by the Parisian candy shops. In a video shot for marthastewart, Eric Berley comments that they are trying to create an experience to “transport people into the past.”
Shane Confectionery is now my go-to hideaway from the 21st century. Next time, I hope to try the chocolate café, tucked away in the back of the store.
Until next time,
P.S. My favorite candy store in Paris, is called A l’Etoile d’Or, owned by the lovely Denise Acabo. I was first introduced to the shop through David Lebovitz‘s blog, and had the pleasure of visiting it in person in 2012. The store front is perhaps half the size of Shane’s, but chock full of all of the best of France (in terms of sugary goodness). I circled around the shop for a good hour, chatting with Denise, her Japanese store assistant and the American tourist couple who walked in after me. She has a wonderful supply of France’s best chocolate bars, traditional candies, caramels and everything you can think of. I remember I walked out of there with 60 euros worth of candy.
Anyway, I mention this because after suffering a big set back (there was a gas pipe explosion in the building in 2014), I just read that she has reopened (I’m kind of late to the game, she reopened at the end of last year, 2015)! So, for any of you readers out there lucky enough to be in Paris, please go visit. And check out Lebovitz’s video, too. Even if you walk away with just one piece of candy, that store is absolute magic, much like Shane’s.