Chocolate, Candy and Coffins

25 Feb

A most unique event was held at the Bringhurst Funeral Home in West Laurel Hill Cemetery today.  A curious location for an event  which combined confectionery and local history with a hint of the macabre of  as one of the owners of Shane’s Confectionery, Ryan Berley, presented “Chocolate, Candy and Cough Drops”.

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Did you know…the copper kettle is the icon for the confectioner trade in the same way the mortar and pestle is for the pharmacist?

007 The dapper Mr Berley

Philadelphia is home to many important landmarks in candy making history. Sitting in my pew in the chapel of rest I was treated to these delicious tidbits…

Governor’s Mill, established by William Penn (for whom Pennsylvania is named) in 1682 produced chocolate and mustard. (One can imagine the new hip combination)

The ports in the Philadelphia area receive 75% of all the cocoa beans that come into the United States.  A huge amount when you realize that the US produces more chocolate than any other country.

The Whitman Sampler is the bestselling candy box in the country. Whitman’s Chocolates was established in 1842 by Stephen F. Whitman at the age of 19. The cross-stitch patterns on the samplers were created by schoolgirls, collected by Whitman executives. Over 30 years Whitman had collected nearly 600 cross stitch samplers. (A selection of which can be viewed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

The first bubble gum was made in Philadelphia in 1906 by Frank Fleer. And was a disaster. Named Blibber Bubble, it was grey and had a tendency to adhere itself to the chewer’s face when the bubble popped. It was not unusual for gum chewers to use turpentine to remove the gum. In 1928 Walter Diemer, an employee of Fleer, created the pink Double Bubble, a much more popular and less sticky gum. It gets its pinkness from the teaberry, a fruit local to PA. The teaberry is also used to flavor Pepto Bismal. And for the epi-curious you can try a teaberry milkshake at Franklin Fountain (owned by Mr Berley)

http://www.franklinfountain.com/

And, speaking of ice cream, Breyer’s and Bassett’s ice creams also started in Philadelphia.  In the 1800s, Philadelphia ice cream was made differently than other ice creams in that it contains no eggs. At that time eggs were considered unclean. Today, the ice cream at Franklin Fountain is made in accordance to this old recipe.

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(West Laurel Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for many famous names in food)

Philadelphia is also home to the early failure of Milton Hershey. Before building his famous chocolate factory, Milton Hershey made caramels in the late 1800s. At the time caramels were more popular than chocolate. Hershey invested in a new technology; “steam confectionery”.  It failed to catch on and he ended up penniless. It wasn’t until he went to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and was dazzled by the exciting new German chocolate making equipment that his luck started to change.

And William H. Luden created his famous cough drops in 1881 in the backroom of his father’s jewelry business in Reading, PA. (Ok, not exactly Philadelphia, but close enough)

luden

It’s not the cough that takes you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in.

The lecture was followed by a scrumptious chocolate tasting in the funeral home’s conservatory…

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And fondue…(and who doesn’t love fondue)

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For more information on events at Bringhurst Funeral Home, see their website…

http://www.forever-care.com/events.php

Mr Berley looms large over all that is chocolate…

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