I have lived in Pennsylvania for just over two and a half years now and in that time I have sampled a few state foods.
Despite the fact that Mr Pict and the Pictlings love them and I go into school every two weeks to deliver them to the kids, I do not like pretzels. I know I should be drummed out of the state for such an admission but I just don’t like them. I can eat one if I have to but it is not something that I enjoy. I did like Tomato Pie but I prefer more traditional Italian pizza than this twist on the theme. I tried Tastykakes and was disappointed – as I had been by my first ever Girl Scout Cookie. I do like Rita’s Water Ice and frozen custard and like that I can deploy it as a bribe / reward for my kids ever so often in the summer months. I have mentioned several times on the blog now that I do not like American chocolate, despite visiting Hershey twice now. The Pictlings have had no such difficulties adjusting their palates to American chocolate but the taste and especially the texture remains alien to my Scottish mouth. In addition to visiting Hershey, we also did the Turkey Hill Experience to learn how this local ice cream is manufactured. Ice cream I love; it just doesn’t love me as I am lactose intolerant.
Recently I tried a new local food in the form of some sweet treats from Shane’s Confectionary. Having started operations in 1863, Shane’s claims to be America’s oldest continuously running candy shop. It’s store on Market Street, Philadelphia, opened in 1911, when the business moved into retail from wholesale. Having fallen on hard times in the post-war period, the candy shop was recently lovingly restored. We will have to take a trip there with the kids some time.
We actually received some Shane’s candies as a New Year gift and, knowing they were special, I saved them for a rainy day. We had some cherries that had been soaked in brandy and covered in chocolate. These tasted divine and the crunch through the chocolate into the chewy, fruity centre was pleasing. They also had a lilac metallic lustre to the chocolate coating which made them extra magical. There were also some chocolate caramels. The kids all loved those but, given American chocolate does nothing for me, I was not bowled over by those.
The boys also had a moulded sugar steam locomotive. Apparently these clear candy toys – brought to PA by the Amish – are a holiday tradition at Shane’s, with parents buying them up for their children’s Easter and Christmas gifts. I have happy memories of going to an Edwardian style sweet shop with my Gran and picking out a variety of boilings which were plopped into a paper poke and treasured and savoured during shopping expeditions. I completely understand the tradition and the element of nostalgia. The train was literally just boiled sugar though and, therefore, would have been too bland for my liking. Give me Kola Kubes and Soor Plooms any day. There were no complaints from the younger sweet-toothed Picts, however.
So that is Shane’s Confectionery ticked off the list. I wonder what my next experience of edible Pennsylvania will be.
We all like what we like. Your posting prompted me to think again of some of my favorite sweets. On of my all-time favorite sweets is black licorice in all of its different forms. I was talking about this at work once and I found out that not a single member of the younger generation could stand the taste of “real” licorice. To them it had to be strawberry or cherry-flavored.
My Mum would be with you. She absolutely loves proper authentic liquorice. Have you ever had a Pontefract Cake? They are thick discs of liquorice originally from Yorkshire – made there all the way back in the 1600s at least. I am not a fan of proper, hard core liquorice but nor do I have to have it fruit flavoured. I like Bassets liquorice in their Allsorts. There is liquorice in there but it is made less potent by mixing it with things like sugar and aniseed. Now aniseed is something I really love.
Like the candy toy – even if it doesn’t taste too good it looks great!! I’m totally with you on american chocolate Laura but I have to admit to loving pretzels!!
I’m definitely in the minority where pretzels are concerned. I go into school every two weeks to distribute pretzels to kids and pretty much the only kids who don’t have one are celiac. Pretzels are a huge deal here. I can eat them. I don’t find them repugnant. I would just rather save my calories for something else.
Even though I’m American, I lived abroad for a decade or so and now I don’t care for the overly sweetness of most American sweets. Tastykakes were better in principle than in practice! Now I can’t have any of those things – including Girl Scout cookies – because the gluten does terrible things to my system.
Sorry about your gluten problem, Ellie. I have lactose intolerance so have to steer clear of dairy (though I’m a cheese addict so take the hit of pain so I can have some). I’m a Scot so was raised to be a massive sweet tooth but I’ve found I am increasingly less fond of sweet things as I get older. I guess my sweet tatesbuds are dying off.
Have you tried gobs yet? Also known as Whoopie Pies…..sort of a cake sandwich with cake rounds on the outside and sweet filling on the inside….big hit in Western PA
Yes! I did not know those were a PA specific delicacy. My kids love those. Thank you for reading and commenting.
They’re not a particularly Pennsylvania thing, but I think by now bagels (real ones that aren’t just round bread) have pretty much planted themselves across the U.S. If you haven’t tried them, I suggest avoiding the flavored ones. Get plain, sesame, or poppyseed. Eat them with butter or cream cheese. Or just tear off chunks and eat them in the car. Mmmmm.
Oddly enough, Ellen, I have the same issue with bagels that I have with pretzels. It’s a texture thing I think – overly dense and chewy bread products are clearly not my bag. My husband and kids all love bagels though. My oldest loves them with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
That’s the traditional way, although these days I pass up the salmon. And usually the cream cheese.
Didn’t know American chocolate tastes different… Probably I’ve never tasted any 🙂 . I wish my sweet taste buds would die off with age but that doesn’t seem to be happening… 😦
It tastes different and also has a different texture. I find it waxy, which I find unappealing, but possibly because I was raised on very sweet and creamy UK chocolate. I still think Belgium makes the best chocolate in the world. I read somewhere at some time that the thing that makes American chocolate seem odd to European mouths is that Americans add vinegar to the mix to kill of chocolate mites. I don’t know how true that is since I did not investigate further but, if true, I prefer my chocolate with critters included.
Eeek… I think I prefer mine with mites then 😀 For a long time Cadbury was my favourite but then they started priducing it in Poland for Eastern European market. It tasted crap so I stopped eating it. What a disappointment…
Really? I did not know it had changed. I get to eat British chocolate so rarely now that my tastebuds clearly have not noticed.
Not for you. Just for us in Eastern Europe 🙂
Oh I see. That’s a pity.
Shane’s is our go-to Valentine’s spot! Yum.
Cool! I really need to go there some time for myself.
Yes. And I also like the candy place in Reading terminal market, don’t know its name, but they have candied ginger dipped in chocolate (milk or dark, your choice) that are UNBELIEVABLE.
I’ve only been in Reading Terminal Market once. The boys found it claustrophobic so we had to leave. My husband goes fairly frequently when he’s working in the Philly office but I’ve never ventured back in because of that first experience with the kids. We need to go back some time when it’s quieter.
Yes, at lunchtime it is a madhouse. Ever since I have lived here. But at off times, not so bad, but I do think it is a non-child spot, for all kinds of reasons, parent and kid-related both!
It was not long after we emigrated and I think the kids were in culture shock. There were probably more people in that market than lived in their home town. They might be better able to cope with crowds now if we pick a quieter time.
Interesting to read about your tastes here. I’m not in love with milk chocolate (like most American candy bars), but I am crazy about dark chocolate. I eat it many times a day bc I have no willpower. Just today, I bought a pound of dark choc-covered cashews. Does that sound ew to you? And as to pretzels, I could see how you wouldn’t like the small ones that crunch and create crumbs. But the big chewy ones that are not your bag? Please put them in my bag. I hate trashy mall food, but the malls have Auntie Anne’s pretzels, so salty and buttery and full of jalapenos (in Texas, but surely not in PA) that my mouth thanks me.
I do like dark chocolate. And milk chocolate. And white chocolate. I think it’s the texture of American chocolate that’s particularly not my thing. And it’s not that I think it’s worse or better than British chocolate (Belgian and then Swiss are best) but I was just raised on UK chocolate so my palate developed to like that. Sorry.
I’m afraid I don’t like soft pretzels. I can, however, eat them if needs must. I just don’t really enjoy them. I’m not a big fan of salty foods so it’s that plus the chewiness. I detest the small crunchy pretzels though. Can’t stand those. My husband and kids like both iterations of pretzels though. I know I’m a weird minority. 😀
This begs the question: 1) Do you like Coke? 2) What would your last meal be, presuming you committed a heinous criminal offense and lived in a state where they offered the death penalty like I do and you were able to make such a request?
I do like Coke but I prefer Dr Pepper if I’m going to have a soft drink. My last meal would be enchilada suisa, spicy and tangy with a creamy texture, because I love really good Mexican food. Dessert would be cranachan which is a Scottish dessert of oats soaked in whiskey, cream, honey, and raspberries.
Now I am certain Laura has disappeared and been replaced with my spouse, the Dr Pepper King (who mixes it with Malibu Rum, to boot) and who also loves enchiladas of any type. That dessert sounds divine!
Ha! My stomach twin!
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