Cities across the United States are sprinkled with old-school candy shops loaded with sweet treats.
By Carolyn Heneghan
When the craving hits, you know the best way to satisfy it: Stop by the closest sweet shop to fill a bag with an assortment of treats, including traditional candies like saltwater taffy; classic confections like fudge; and childhood favorites like gummy bears. Luckily, it’s not hard to fulfill a sugar craving; there is no shortage of candy stores, fudge shops and ice cream parlors to visit when traveling across the U.S.
Cream of the Crop
With sponge-painted red tables and pink walls covered in pictures of smiling kids and drawings of ice cream cones, Creole Creamery in New Orleans reminds everyone that they’re welcome to be a kid here.
In addition to homemade ice cream churned 10 gallons at a time by chef Bryan Gilmore, the ice cream bar is lined with tubs of whimsical flavors like lavender honey and golden summer fig.
Black & Gold Crunch is a crowd favorite that’s served from September through February for the New Orleans Saints football season. It’s essentially a tantalizing, grown-up cookies ’n’ cream with French vanilla and chicory root ice cream mixed with crushed Oreo cookies and chocolate chips.
For larger appetites, the Tchoupitoulas specialty is an eight-scoop sundae with eight toppings of the customer’s choice, plus half a can of whipped cream, cherries and sugar wafers. Individual challengers who are able to finish the creamy monster earn a spot on the shop’s Wall of Fame.
The outrageous ice cream creations aren’t the only reason Creole Creamery is so popular. “A lot of it has to do with nostalgia and with our childhood,” Gilmore says. “I, like practically every kid, grew up loving ice cream. … It’s frozen, flavorful, you lick it, you hold it in a cone—it’s fun for a kid. Whether you’re 8 or 80 years old … it’s just a lot of fun to eat.”
Blast From the Past
An air of nostalgia surrounds guests at Cousin’s Candy Shop in Old Town San Diego, from the old-school candies and varieties of homemade saltwater taffy (including huckleberry, the store’s staple) to the employees’ 19th-century attire and a life-size covered wagon.
Cousin’s transports customers to a candy shop frozen in time, akin to something straight out of “Little House on the Prairie.” An old shoe, a birdcage and a hand-cranked clothes wringer are just a few of the decorations that provide an added touch of antiquity to the shop.
Just below the relics are rows of traditional sweets, such as Mary Jane candies, Cow Tales caramels and one of the shop’s specialties, Horehound candy, a hard candy that was once used as a cough drop but is now a treasured old-timey treat.
The Golden Rule
Kilwins in historic Annapolis, Md., was founded on original, irresistible recipes for sweet delights using premium ingredients and old-fashioned care. The homemade fudge, for instance, is prepared with lots of scrupulous paddling on marble tables to make the creamiest product possible.
Just about anything can be dipped in chocolate or caramel here, and Kilwins is renowned for two specialties: a peanut butter cup that weighs up to a quarter-pound and flash frozen salted caramel ice cream.
“There are all these sweet things that not only delight the tongue, but they appeal to all the senses,” explains Jonathan Barone, assistant manager at Kilwins. “[People] feel the freedom to just enjoy sweets and sort of return to that carefree, joyous nature that I think a lot of us felt as children when we walked into a candy store.”
Fountain of Youth
Philadelphia is home to the Franklin Fountain in the heart of Old City. Named after Benjamin himself, the shop is the brainchild of the Berley brothers, Eric and Ryan, who set out to create their own authentic soda fountain and ice cream parlor.
Having come from a family of antique collectors, the two men constructed their own soda fountain inside a turn-of-the-century building. They describe the fountain as serving “an experience steeped in ideals, drizzled in drollery and sprinkled with the forgotten flavors of the American past.”
Each of the shop’s ice cream recipes—from classic vanilla bean to teaberry gum—are made in-house from scratch and guests can choose from nearly a dozen different sundaes.
The Berley name is also associated with the storefront recognized by many as the oldest confectionery in the U.S. Established in 1863, Shane Confectionery continues to craft its candies on-site to provide vintage treasures alongside new innovations like dark chocolate-covered bacon to its dedicated customers.
No matter the time or place, there’s no age limit to indulge in an old-fashioned sweets experience.
Candy Through the Decades
When did your favorite candy first hit shelves? The answer might surprise you—some of the classic treats we reach for when satisfying a sweet tooth have been around for decades. Here are some favorites and the years they were introduced to the sweets scene.
1954: Atomic Fireballs
1975: Pop Rocks
1995: Caramel Apple Pops