News flash: My kids and I love ice cream! So it was with great anticipation that we made our way to the Franklin Fountain in Old City Philadelphia, which promised a genuine ice cream parlour experience, to say nothing of lots of whipped cream. What we discovered was not only some lovely treats but the opportunity to time travel. The tin-pressed ceilings, rainbow of syrups, bust of the big man Ben wearing a boater, and the antique telephone and cash register do make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
(Also: I’m pretty sure that if you are a dude and want to work here, you must promise to throw away your razor.)
Although the male employees definitely take their facial hair seriously, the Franklin Fountain isn’t just some kind of hipster or twee fad. Opened by two brothers in 2004, this place is seriously dedicated to creating an old-fashioned soda fountain experience. Everything that can be is made in-house from the ice cream to the hot fudge to the syrups that flavor the sodas.
To my mind, the Franklin Fountain gets it just right – the aesthetics are impeccable, the ice cream is delicious, and it’s just plain fun to read the menu. I also love that they are bringing back beverages like the phosphate and the egg cream while acknowledging the modern need for lactose- and sugar-free treats (I have a friend who swears by their chocolate soy ice cream for her little boy). The best up-to-date touch may be an espresso maker. The availability of hot Italian coffee means that you can order, as my child did, a sundae called the Lightening Rod. This consists of a chocolate brownie topped with coffee ice cream, a shot of espresso, chocolate covered espresso beans, white chocolate shavings, whipped cream, and a large pretzel. Yowza.
A word of warning: If you haven’t realized it already, the sundaes here are not for the faint of heart. I almost keeled over just looking at a banana split being served to someone else.
After ice cream you’ll probably need some dessert, so step next door to Shane Confectionery, which shares not only the same owners but the old-fashioned ethos. Much of the candy sold here is either made on the premises or sourced locally and the choices include candied fruit slices, fudge, and caramels, as well as artisanal chocolate.
The candy is displayed in beautiful glass jars and is as pleasing to the eye as the palate. Order a quarter pound of hard candy or licorice and it will be weighed on a manual scale and given to you in a pretty white paper cone.
If you plan to visit the Franklin Fountain, make sure you have cash handy because in the true old-fashioned spirit, that is all they accept. Additionally, you can expect to wait in line, especially if the day is hot. We had to do so on an exceptionally raw April day, so I can only imagine what it’s like in the middle of the summer. The shop is an easy walk from the attractions around Independence Hall.
Can’t get enough of these delicious sweets? The inside of Shane features prominently in the video I made for the Expedia Kids in the City campaign.
For Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick. If you’re still hungry after that sundae, there’s sure to be lots more to fill you up there.