If you are thinking of getting your sweetie something, well, sweet, but can't figure out just where to go, the Philadelphia area offers plenty of options to solve your chocolate, candy, and confectionery conundrum.
In what could be called a tour of Philadelphia's own version of Candyland, our friends at Philadelphia Magazine put together a list of where to get the best locally made sweets, with some featured on FYI Philly's Valentine's Day special.
The tour begins at Shane Confectionery in Old City, the oldest continuously operating candy shop in the country.
"This is the ultimate kid in a candy store kind of feeling," Jason Sheehan, Philadelphia Magazine Food Editor, said. "This is a place that really speaks to Philadelphia's history of chocolates and candies."
"Everything that you see at Shane Confectionery is authentic, down to the woodwork, the handmade chocolates, the molds that we use for the hard candies," co-owner Ryan Berley said.
The Berley brothers restored Shanes in 2010 and still churn out the buttercreams that made the candy maker a household name.
"Vanilla buttercreams is the old fashioned call here at Shane's, but we've greatly expanded the lines to bring back the tradition of Philadelphia caramels," Berley said.
Shane Confectionery also makes the ice cream for Franklin Fountain in the back of the shop.
They also make clear toy candies, a German tradition brought to Pennsylvania in the 18th century
"Essentially, they're poured hot molten sugar that are formed into fancy molds and create sugar toys for children," Berley said.
They are the only candy store in Philly to make them.
There's also a chocolate cafe in the back of the shop where you can learn how to make hot chocolate drinks from around the world.
"Unless you've been to a fine chocolate shop in Paris...you just can't find this in America," Berley said.
Reading Terminal Market is home to another Philadelphia candy staple - Chocolate by Mueller.
"You can't get through Reading Terminal Market without seeing Chocolate by Mueller," Sheehan said.
Chocolate by Mueller have been in Reading Terminal Market for 20 years.
Mueller is famous for chocolate covered pretzels, clusters and nonpareils, but they're also known for some odd creations.
"We have a chocolate covered onion," Chocolate by Mueller owner Glenn Mueller said. "[And] a lot of really strange body part molds: chocolate heart, lungs, noses, ears, kidneys, livers."
You can also find an impressive assortment of imported black licorice from around the world.
"I think you can probably satisfy most sweet-tooths here," Mueller said.
Making your way out of the city, Conshohocken's Tradestone Confections is a collaboration between chefs Chip Roman and Fred Ortega who worked at Le Bec-Fin together.
It launched in 2013.
"We try to use fresh ingredients, a lot of flavors that people are familiar with and we try to have a little bit of fun with the way we decorate them," Tradestone Confections chocolatier and co-owner Fred Ortega said.
With flavors like banana nutmeg, pistachio citrus, and caramel apple, these artisan chocolates are almost too beautiful to eat.
"I think you eat with your eyes so if you start to see something and if it looks too out of place, you don't associate it with the flavor, so I think if there's colors and images that are close to what you're eating, then you kind of have a better experience," Ortega said.
The confections are sold online and in their Conshohocken cafe. You can also buy their products at Whole Foods and Di Bruno Bros.
In addition to the chocolates, they also make Pate de Fruit or fruit jellies.
If gummies are more your style, Philly Sweet Tooth in Queen Village will hit the spot.
"Assorted gummy bears, then we have gummy sharks, gummy army guys, the chicken feet, gummy worms, sour gummies even," Philly Sweet Tooth Manager Kimberly Price said.
The tiny shop is stocked with more than 250 varieties of candy.
"We just really love being able to pick out whatever candy you want, mixing it up, and then weighing it out," Price said.
Down the shore, Fralinger's is the place taffy lovers go for the taste of the original salt water taffy.
They have locations in Cape May, Atlantic City, and Ocean City, N.J.
"That's what they're known for and that's a classic salt water taffy; it is awesome. They have a million different flavors of it, they have an entire wall of it. They make it themselves. They've been doing it for a thousand years, it's fantastic," Sheehan said.
For a taffy fix in Philly, there's Rocket Fizz in Old City.
"We have a lot of flavors of taffy, some conventional ones, some that are different and that you can't find anywhere else either," Rocket Fizz co-owner George Rutter said.
The store is known for its wide selection of throwback candy.
"If there's a candy you haven't found in a while, this is probably the place you want to be," Rutter said.
"You can't look anywhere in the shop without seeing something that reminds you of a time when candy was like the fourth most important thing in your life," Sheehan said.
There's also lots of soda pop.
"We have about 400 different sodas. We have your different colas, root beer, ginger ale, cream sodas," Rutter said.
And you'll find some unusual soda flavors including bacon, ranch dressing, and buffalo wing.
For More Information:
Philly Mag's Candy Land: Local Candy Shops
110 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Rocket Fizz Philadelphia
302 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Philly Sweet Tooth
630 S 4th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
117 Fayette St
Conshohocken, PA 19428
Mueller Chocolate Company
Reading Terminal Market
45 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy
Cape May, NJ
324 Washington Street Mall
at Jackson Avenue
Cape May, NJ 08204
Atlantic City, NJ
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Ocean City, NJ
Ocean City, NJ 08226