November 29, 2012

Shane Confectionery & Franklin Fountain

If you live in the Philadelphia area, chances are you've made a visit to Franklin Fountain, the old-fashioned ice cream shop in Old City.  What you may not know is that Ryan and Eric Berley, brothers and owners of Franklin Fountain, purchased and rehabbed a long-time neighborhood candy shop, Shane Confectionery, just two doors down.  While I typically prefer ice cream to candy, we jumped at the chance to tour the candy-making kitchens located directly above Shane.  Thanks to an invite from the super sweet Sara, who writes a beautiful blog and also happens to be a baker and candy-maker for the two shops, we got an inside look at the hand-crafted techniques and old-school appliances.  The Shane website provides a great history of the shop.

Sara took us through the ice-cream room and up the stairs to the main candy-making floor.  She explained that they make everything by hand, and utilize equipment to keep everything as "old-fashioned" as possible.  For example, they still use hand-fused copper kettles and bowls heated over a gas stove that has to be hand-lit- no pilot lights!  They even have a refurbished butter-cream churner that is at least five feet across.

One of Shane's specialities is clear toy candy-  a hard candy made from molten corn syrup and sugar that is carefully hardened in intricate molds that are decades, if not centuries, old.  Shane boasts the largest clear toy candy mold collection in the country, with an entire wall of the kitchen devoted to hand-labeled storage drawers for each mold.  The molds range in size and shape and can make candy ships complete with candy masts and sails and flags to a more simple candy swan or cat.  The options seemed endless.

 However, no candy shop is complete without chocolate, and Shane has an entire "chocolate floor" devoted to hand-dipping chocolates of all varieties.  There are several slow-churning, heated vats of chocolate as well as a dipping table with a heated insert- several people can sit around the dipping table making buttercreams, chocolate covered potato chips, caramels, nuts clusters, and fruits.

Tray after tray of various chocolates were waiting to be packed up or sold in the store below.  Sara let us taste some dark chocolate buttercreams, which really reflected every tedious step of the process.  The buttercream tasted like smooth, dense frosting without a hint of artificial ingredients.  The bitter chocolate coating was the perfect contrast, providing a hard shell around the buttercream.  As they're all hand-dipped, no chocolate looks the same, but the experienced hands of Shane's employees keep the chocolate coating smooth and even.

Although I probably could have sat and eaten chocolate all afternoon, we had made the decision to stop in for some ice cream next door at Franklin Fountain.  On our way out, Sara pointed out the waffle makers used to make Franklin's waffle cones.

She also let us take a peek at the marshmallows she'd been working on- peppermint flavored, no less!

Franklin Fountain is notorious for having a long line out the door- up to a thirty minute wait in my experience, even in cold weather.  However, we got lucky and caught them at a quiet time, giving us plenty of time to stare at the menu and drool over all of the options.  There are tons of ice cream flavors available every day, with a rotating list of seasonal specials.  There are also milkshakes and sundaes and pretty much any combination of sweets you could imagine.

I had my eye on the pies located in a little cabinet near the front of the store.  The peach praline with a lattice top looked particularly delicious.

Like Shane, Franklin Fountain keeps things as old-school as possible, from the employees uniforms (and facial hair!) to the decor to the telephone.  Once we realized that they were using a wall-mounted "hand-crank" telephone, we were tempted to make some calls just to see it in use.

Check out that phone on the far left.
 Since I'd run the Philly half that morning, I figured I could treat myself.  The pie looked amazing, but I knew I needed to try some ice cream too.  Thankfully, Franklin made the choice easy by offering a "hot milkshake"- literally a warmed piece of pie dunked into a milkshake.  Pure food genius.  The peach praline pie was paired with a butter pecan milkshake ($9.50).  And yes, it was even better than it looked (and sounded).  Flaky crust, warm peaches, and a buttery, nutty ice cream bath.  Served in a large metal cup with a paper straw, this was the most amazing post-race treat I can imagine.

A ordered a single scoop of a special flavor, made in collaboration with one of our favorite Philly spots- Federal Donuts.  This ice cream has a chocolate base but includes chunks of cake donuts and plenty of the Israeli appolonia spice used in the donut shop.  The combination of chocolate and spicy donuts was a great balance- neither outshines the other.

We were spending the afternoon with a friend, and she also went the single-scoop route, choosing the seasonal pumpkin flavor.  Like most pumpkin-flavored things, the primary flavors were pumpkin pie spices, with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Scoops of ice cream are served in fancy glass stemware and a "single-scoop" is plenty to share amongst friends.  While we passed around our ice cream (+ pie), we had lots of fun admiring and discussing the old-time decorations and appliances.

Our adventures at Shane and Franklin Fountain felt like a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and certainly, the visit to see the inner-workings of a candy shop surely were (many, many thanks to Sara!).  However, we definitely need to get ourselves back down to Old City more often for some chocolates and ice cream.  It's a great place for a date or to take out-of-towners- so unique and a real delight to visit.

Shane Confectionery
110 Market Street

Franklin Fountain
116 Market Street


  1. hey there-- sorry it's taken me so long to get around to commenting on this, but I just wanted to say that it was so much fun meeting you guys and showing you around. Your pictures are GORGEOUS! I'm so glad you had as much fun as I did-- and I'm super excited that you liked the pie. (They're my babies, I've been working on them non-stop since October!)

    Great to finally meet you! Let's get drinks sometime, okay?

  2. Franklin Fountain is the PERFECT place to visit after the Philly half. I did that in 2011.

  3. Love your copper bowls. I Caramelise macadamias in similar bowls here in Australia., if I can get that link in, just so you can see other potential treats for yourself. Love your site.. xxx Mark