Posts tagged ‘candy store’

Ye Olde Candy Shoppe

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.

November 11, 2009 at 7:06 am 1 comment

Candy Sales Up in Recession

San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that candy sales are strong in California, even as unemployment tops 12%. The Candy Store, on Vallejo Street, reports surging demand for nostalgia candies. Meanwhile, purveyors of high end chocolates are seeing a drop in demand.

We saw a similar story reported from New York last spring, as the economy showed signs of failure to recover in the wake of the bail-out and stimulus plan. Economy Candy, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a connection between hard times and candy eating. American candy consumption grew faster during the Great Depression of the 1930s than at any other time in the twentieth century. For some, candy bars were more than just a treat. The Depression gave us such memorable but long-gone candy bars as: Chicken Dinner, Chicken Bone, Denver Sandwich, and Idaho Spud. A chicken dinner might be out of a hungry man’s reach, but a Chicken Dinner could take the edge off. Many of today’s favorite confections were launched during the Depression, including Snickers, Mars with Almonds, and Three Musketeers.

The turn to candy when things are rough isn’t so surprising. Candy is sweet, it tastes good, it’s simple, it connects to less complicated times. And sugar has pain-reducing properties, which might help too in these hard times.

Sources:Candy sales strong despite recession, Robert Selna. San Fransico Chronicle, 23 Sept. 2009;When Economy Sours, Tootsie Rolls Soothe Souls, Christine Haughney. New York Times, 23 March 23 200; Joel Glenn Brenner, The Emporers of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars (1999)

September 24, 2009 at 9:16 pm 4 comments


Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

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.

(C) Samira Kawash

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