Old-Fashioned Sweet Treats in Philadelphia
Standing outside on a beautiful night at the Franklin Fountain you could easily mistake this old-fashioned ice cream and soda shop as being a sweet treat landmark since the colonial days. Nestled in a corner of a building on Market Street, the Franklin Fountain has old school ambiance that includes the traditional “Soda Jerk” serving and scooping unique flavors such as Hydrox Cookie (old-fashioned Oreos) and Teaberry Gum (looks pink but tastes like wintergreen). Yet the Franklin Fountain only opened in 2004, and it has become THE place to go for great homemade ice cream and a whole bevy of sodas and other drinks.
While standing in line with tourists and most importantly locals (a sure sign of a great place), I was struck with the fact that this was no ordinary ice cream shop. Along with their world class ice cream and seasonal specials like the delicious Dubliner Sundae for St. Patrick’s Day pictured above, the Franklin Fountain offers traditional and unique sodas, ice cream sodas, phosphates and egg creams. You may not be aware of the last two items on this list, but both are delicious. Here are a quick definitions of these treats:
A phosphate soda is a type of beverage that has a tangy or sour taste. These beverages became popular among children in the 1870s in the United States. Phosphate beverages were made with fruit flavorings, egg, malt, or wine.
An egg cream is a beverage consisting of milk, carbonated water, and chocolate syrup. Despite its name, the drink contains neither eggs nor cream.
The Franklin Fountain is definitely on our list for the best desserts in Philadelphia and worth multiple trips when you’re in the city — just to try everything out.
Tip: The fountain is CASH ONLY. So be sure to stop by the bank before getting in line.
The Franklin Fountain is open from 11 am until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays. On weekends lines can get a bit long, so be ready to wait. Fortunately, the Soda Jerks at the fountain know their business and move everyone along extremely quickly.
If ice cream and soda don’t float your boat, don’t worry. The same owners of the Franklin Fountain also have a wonderful old-fashioned confectionery and candy store one store down from the fountain. Continuing the century long tradition of making candy at that location, the Shane Confectionery specializes in amazing traditional-style candy making all made by hand. Everything in the shop will tantalize your sweet tooth, from licorice and brandied cherries to chocolates in all different types, shapes and sizes (even ones that are molded in the shape of the Liberty Bell).
More tips: If you find the line at the Franklin Fountain is too long, Shane’s also sells the same ice cream already in containers, just not in the same quantities and variety. And, even better — if you purchase anything in one store show your receipt next door for 10% off your purchase.
Wondering where to stay in Philly? Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing is within walking distance of Shane Confectionery, the original Franklin Fountain and across the street from the satellite Franklin Fountain store in Spruce Park.
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Know Before You Go
- Tasting a Philly Cheesesteak is a must! Local rival restaurants Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks are some of the best in the city.
- For art enthusiasts, the Mural Mile Walking Tour covers over 3,600 murals. Other museums offer Free Art Sundays on the first Sunday of each month.
- Immerse yourself in the history of the birth of the United States at Independence Hall.
Photo credit for Dubliner Sundae: Franklin Fountain