Chocoholic: Easter at Shane Confectionery
Chocoholic is a column by Tina Kartika about all things sweet in Philly.
Only two weeks ago, Philadelphia celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Irish potatoes, and now the city is preparing to welcome Easter with even more candies. With Valentine’s Day in February, St. Patrick’s Day in March, and Easter in early April, there is always an excuse to satisfy your sweet tooth in Philadelphia. Some of the nation’s largest candy producers (think Hershey and Peeps), after all, are Pennsylvania-based companies, so it is no surprise that the City of Brotherly Love is a paradise for candy and chocolate enthusiasts.
Easter is a busy holiday for many chocolate and candy parlors. According to employees at Lore’s Chocolates and Shane Confectionery, (two local candy shops in Philadelphia) candies are actually in highest demand around Easter time instead of the expected Valentine’s Day. This certainly makes sense considering how Easter is a holiday celebrated by all ages regardless of their religious background and relationship status in the United States. While there are quite a few candy stores in Philadelphia where one can buy chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, I recommend everyone to check out Shane Confectionery in Old City.
Shane Confectionery, located on Market between 1st and 2nd Street, is the longest standing confectionery in the United States. While the Shane family established the store more than a century ago in 1911, what is more impressive is the fact that the confectionery had been there since 1863 before the Shane family bought it. The candy store has since changed owners; the Berley brothers of the famous ice cream shop Franklin Fountain only a few doors down the block has taken over the management since 2010. Whenever there is a change in business ownership, customers naturally fear that the quality or prices would change. Fear not, my fellow sweet lovers! While I had never tried Shane’s candies before the change in ownership, my picky taste buds can assure you that the store still sells high-quality candies.
While Shane offers candies ranging from licorice to chocolate-dipped candied orange peel, the most famous items for Easter are obviously the Easter-themed candies such as chocolate bunnies and eggs. Upon entering the store, I was greeted by a towering, giant chocolate bunny standing on the glass display, easily the height of a toddler. Wrapped in plastic and decorated with a ribbon, the adventure rabbit is seven pounds of dark chocolate, enough to feed an entire party.
For those who are not that ambitious, Shane also offers smaller-sized chocolate bunnies and buttercream eggs. If you’re wondering what buttercream really is, it is simply sugar creamed in butter. Chocolate buttercream, however, is different from buttercream frosting in that it has less butter per sugar ratio and is cooked. Even though there was no seven-pound buttercream egg seen anywhere in the shop, the buttercream eggs have more options in terms of size: you can choose from penny eggs the size of regular bonbons all the way to the two-pound highly decorated eggs. I tried a dark chocolate strawberry penny egg and fell in love instantly with the sweet and smooth strawberry filling.
While these chocolate bunnies and eggs can be found in other local candy stores, Shane is unique in its offering of clear toy candies. These translucent rabbits and baskets come in many colors, and their captivating beauty reminded me of stained glass windows of a Gothic church. Even if you dislike sweets, these clear toy candies are great for decorations.
Shopping at Shane truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that you cannot get at any other candy store. Stepping into this candyland, you see antique cash registers that can only go up to $7.99 and $9.99 each, employees wearing white aprons and caps, and decorations that take you back in time. After feasting your eyes on so many different kinds of candies, walk toward the door at the end of the candy displays and enter the recently opened chocolate cafe to enjoy a cup of Aztec-style hot chocolate with chili pepper or a cup of cacao tea (ground cacao nibs steeped in black tea) to top your experience.