Warning: This blog post may cause excessive drooling, stomach rumbling, and the uncontrollable urge to eat chocolate.
In BREATHE, the main character Virginia is notorious for her sweet tooth. She quickly discovers that sometimes candy can be the best medicine of all and shares her bounty with several other people in the book including a handsome Italian boy. You’ll find Hershey’s Kisses (also a Pennsylvanian creation), peppermint buttons, and lemon drops mentioned multiple times in BREATHE, but where did I come up with this idea? Miss Nan’s Confectionery is a figment of my imagination, but it is very much influenced by the Shane Confectionery in Old City Philadelphia. Shane Confectionery is America’s oldest continuously operating confectionery, though it has changed hands a few times over the years and was once also a fireworks store! Today, it is owned by the Berley Brothers who also own the equally historically fabulous Franklin Fountain. Did you see my earlier post about The Broken Heart Sundae inspired by the Franklin Fountain’s creation? You can read about it here. Today though, it’s all about chocolate.
This vintage poster hangs in the Shane Confectionery back room next to where they make hot chocolate creations from scratch. It highlights the American Chocolate Fund which helped send chocolate bars to the doughboys in the trenches of France during WWI. Chocolate bars offered a sweet taste of home for servicemen abroad. I’m sure Virginia would have generously donated to this cause. This particular chocolate bar was not part of the war effort. Instead, it is Shane Confectionery’s homage to the original idea. The rich, poppy-seed-covered chocolate bar includes raspberry and lime zest. Why? The back of the wrapper reads in part: Poppies are the symbol of WWI remembrance. “Limeys” refer to the Royal Navy sailors, while raspberry briars remind us of the barbed wire of No Man’s Land.
Speaking of No Man’s Land…anybody else’s brain go to a certain scene in a certain movie?
Anyhoo, if you are a history buff or a foodie, I highly recommend a trip to Shane Confectionery. Wonder Twin and I got to participate in a special behind-the-scenes tour of the store (which included chocolate tasting) while we were in Philly in September. The store also offers some specialty workshops throughout the year for a fee. If you are looking for something fun, educational, and delicious to do while visiting Philadelphia, I hope you’ll check them out. I also recommend that you buy a large paper cone of lemon drops to eat while you read BREATHE for an authentic experience.
There you go. A sweet, behind-the-scenes peek into BREATHE. Want to see how chocolate and confections weave into the story? You can buy the paperback version of BREATHE here and the eBook here.
Cover picture by Tara Hunter of Historical Echoes. Used with permission.
The Franklin Fountain