Franklin Fountaineers Reveal Plans for Shane Candies

The throwback ice cream entrepreneurs get into the vintage confectionary game

Brothers Ryan and Eric Berley, have already transported one Old City building back in time with their vintage ice creamery, the Franklin Fountain. Now the proprietors are expanding their Market Street retro sweets empire with a candy-making operation, just down the block. And not just any candy-making operation: the brothers purchased 99-year-old confectionary Shane Candies, which they plan to return to its glory days, circa 1911. What can we expect to see at the new/old Shane Candies? And when can we expect to see it? We spoke with the brothers and got the scoop.

Though the keys and the recipe to Shane’s famed buttercreams have changed hands — third-generation owner Barry Shane, who wanted to retire, sold it to the Berleys in May — old fans needn’t worry about the shop’s tradition being tarnished. In fact, the brothers plan to polish off the dust and return the business to turn-of-the-century glory.

“Shane Candies will remain Shane,” Ryan says. What will change? “The candy store is going to be a step back in time.”

The brothers see themselves as torchbearers of bygone sugary rituals. In their period garb—both always wear bow ties; Eric dons a bowler hat and handlebar mustache—they perch on teetering chairs in their office scattered with century-old confectionary ephemera and show off their collection of soda fountain photographs.

The new old Shane Candies should appear sometime between October and Thanksgiving. In addition to a cleaner, more organized space inside (it’s currently being painted and the original counters, ceilings, and fleur-de-lis woodwork are undergoing restoration), the exterior will be newly antiquated. The stained glass and original curved glass windows — which were removed in the 1970s — will be restored to the façade to reflect the old-fashioned boardwalk feel for which the Fountain strives. A candy maker will dip chocolates in one of the windows, pulling on the sweet tooth of passerby.

“The ladies that work the candy kitchen and shop will be dressed in period-appropriate attire,” Ryan says. “The new lighting will be from the turn of the century with old-style bulbs. The candies will be displayed in a collection of antique candy jars with old-fashioned labels.”

While the Berleys intend to uphold the Shane line of candies, they also want to emphasize seasonal sweets. Both took candy-making classes and want to pull candy canes and feature their line of clear toy candy (a Fountain fixture) this winter. Handmade French truffles will complement the ubiquitous buttercreams; saltwater taffy and fudge will be summertime staples. In addition, Ryan says they want to introduce “some real special candies that you don’t see in Philadelphia and may not see anywhere else in the country”—the result of research trips to candy havens stateside and in Italy.

The owners are currently cleaning and oiling Shane’s ancient machinery so they can make the candy true to shop craft. “The machines were built to last longer than any of us will be around,” Ryan says. “The buttercream machine [from the 1920s] is really neat to watch; it’ll actually shake the building with its vibrations. It folds and aerates the cream in a way that only the old school confectioners still do.”

A bonus—“hurt” candy can be incorporated into batches of Franklin ice cream.

The purchase also has back-of-the-house benefits for the Franklin Fountain. “It’s traditional in the ice cream business to have lower sales in the wintertime, and often you have to let your staff go and hire again,” Eric says. “The candy business offers a way of rounding out our business.” Plus, the Fountain will move its ice cream-making operation, now stationed atop Honey’s Sit ‘n’ Eat in Northern Liberties, to the back room of Shane’s. An alley connects the shops’ back doors, making the daily transit for 100-plus gallons of ice cream negligible.

For eager sugar cravers, the soda fountain offers coupons with every purchase for one free candy gift redeemable at the autumn reopening of Shane. Stop by for a seasonal scoop—like local blueberry ice cream—get a voucher, and a step back to the aughts.

Shane Candies, 110 Market Street,
Franklin Fountain, 116 Market Street, 215-627-1899