The List: Candy Land

Photo by Claudia Gavin; Styling by Julie Lazarus

Photo by Claudia Gavin; Styling by Julie Lazarus

There was a time when Philadelphia was the king of confectionery cities. And while we may have fallen slightly from those halcyon days, this is still a town with a pretty substantial sweet streak. Here are the best shops for those looking for something other than the traditional chocolates of the season.

Rocket Fizz
302 Arch Street, Old City
This chain makes its mark by shamelessly pandering to the nostalgic streak in all of us. It’s the Proust’s madeleine of candy shops, offering the tastes (and smells, and feels) of just about every single candy you can remember from back in the days when candy was, like, the fourth most important thing in your life. Whether you’re after the old-timey fix of candy dots and whirly pops, some bulk salt water taffy or just a couple bottles of bacon-flavored soda, this ode to sugar-crusted sensory overload should be your first stop.

Shane Confectionery
110 Market Street, Old City
The Berley brothers at Shane Confectionery have made their mark by looking to Philly’s candy-making past for their inspiration (and their space, which has been a confectionery shop since 1863). So it’s only appropriate that the best things they make have a sense of history to them, from the smooth buttercreams, fruit slices and brandied cherries to the new clear toy candies now on sale — traditional 18th-century Pennsylvania sweets made by pouring sugar into molds in the shapes of ships, exotic animals, pets and fire engines.

Philly Sweet Tooth
630 South 4th Street, Queen Village
Are you the kind of person who just can’t get through the week without a bag of cherry sours? Can wax soda bottles, Haribo raspberries or twists of strawberry licorice reduce you to a puddle of nostalgic goo? Then you need to find your way to Philly Sweet Tooth. There are more than 250 kinds of candy crammed into this tiny Queen Village shop, so whether it’s Hot Tamales, jawbreakers or rock candy that you’re craving, if you can’t satisfy your sweet tooth here, you might have problems more serious than any candy store can fix.

Tradestone Confections
117 Fayette St, Conshohocken
This is chef Chip Roman’s entry into Philly’s sugar economy. And while his chocolates have a definite artsy streak (you’ll find everything from banana-nutmeg to gingerbread, pumpkin spice, and a very liquid pear caramel in the winter assortment), the sugar-dusted pâtés des fruits (fruit jellies) are what set Tradestone apart from the crowd. The strawberry is the best — you know, in case anyone out there was looking to get me a present.

Chocolate By Mueller
Reading Terminal Market, Market East
While this perennial Market favorite might be known for simple things like chocolate-covered pretzels (and chocolate-covered everything else), the crowded, rainbow-colored newsstand-style candy counter is a Shangri-la for those looking for a hit of sweet memories. The fruit slices are to die for, but we also know folks who swear by Mueller’s licorice, mountains of truffles and (occasionally available) candy apples.

Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy
326 Washington Street, Cape May
Yes, it’s a bit of a haul, but Fralinger’s has everything you could possibly want in a candy store. For starters, there’s the iconic salt water taffy (in about a billion different varieties), the fudge (in about a billion different varieties) and the fancy-pants chocolates (in about a billion different varieties). But Fralinger’s ups its game with the inclusion of both modern and classic candies, local favorites, buckets of Johnson’s caramel popcorn, and the wood-heavy feel of a real old-fashioned candy shop. Locations in Atlantic City and Ocean City, too.

First appeared in the February, 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.