Ye Olde Candy Shoppe

November 11, 2009 at 7:06 am 1 comment

Here’s a peek inside a candy shop some hundred years ago.

sweet shoppe

Martin Hesche presided behind the counter of this high grade retail establishment on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The shop offered candy, of course. Our photo doesn’t show too much detail, but we can see trays of goodies at the counter, and rows of glass jars behind. Brass polished pans, and glass trays for chocolates, would have displayed the goods.

Candy wasn’t the only thing on offer. Soda was really the main attraction; the soda fountain was the first thing customers would see, a contrivance of marble and mahogany and mirrors designed to dispense soda and flavors with an air of Continental grandeur. The whole contraption was topped by a “bathing beauty” with a stream of water squirting over her. 10 cents would buy you an ice cream soda and a seat at a table. For 5 cents, you could enjoy a plate of ice cream.

What sort of candies were made to sell at Martin Hesche’s shop? I can tell you the names, but I have no idea what most of them might have tasted like: cream filberts, raspberry cuts, rose and lemon jellies, Annie Rooneys, Trilby Cuts, Humbugs, Steamed Coconuts, Boston Drops. Taffies cost 12 cents a pound and for full cream caramels, you’d pay 25 cents the pound. In the summer, there were candied fruits including sickle pears, peaches, crab apples, apricots, pineapple and cherries. And when the weather cooled and the risks of melting passed, Hesche made chocolates. Assorted at 25 cents the pound, or as the holidays approached, packed for you in lovely five pound boxes.

Would you have enjoyed working in such a shop? At the counter, girls worked 10 hour days, six days a week, for a weekly pay of six dollars. Chocolate coaters and dippers made eight dollars, and the more skilled candy maker helpers could make $12. If you were the head candymaker, maybe you’d take home $18 at the end of the week, if it was a first class shop.

Martin Hesche’s shop was luxurious for its day. I’m sure if I were strolling down Germantown Avenue, I’d stop for an ice cream soda. Likely I’d leave with a smile, and probably a five pound box of candy too!

There are still a few descendants of the old candy makers around here and there. One “chocolatier” in my own city is Ms. Kamila Myzel, who has been making chocolates, marzipans, and cookies at Myzel’s Chocolate in Midtown Manhattan. The New York Times ran a feature on her shop on Nov. 10: Sweets From the Heart. She says her hand made chocolate is “regular chocolate, good quality for ordinary people.” We need more Myzel’s these days, places where good quality is considered “regular,” and where the distance from kitchen to shop is just a few feet.

Source: Harry C. Nuss, “Ye Olde Candy Shoppe At the Turn of the Century” Confectioners Journal Dec. 1949 118-121.

Entry filed under: 1890 to WW I, Candy Nostalgia, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Fresher in Cellophane « CandyProfessor  |  January 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

    […] Ads from the 1930s emphasized cleanliness and convenience. The individually wrapped candies in these ads will be happy in a pocket or handbag, with no worry for sticky messes. The girl peering over the candy bin seems ready to reach in for a handfull. There is no clerk standing over her waiting for her order. She can just help herself! Compare this image of the open candy bins to the image of a 1900s candy store in Ye Olde Candy Shoppe. […]


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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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