Old-fashioned chocolates may lack the shock of the new—wasabi-flavored truffles, say—but the wholesome sweetness of classics from homegrown candy kitchens are making a comeback.
Pennsylvania General Store (12th and Arch Sts., Philadelphia; 215/592-9772)
Special Treat Dark-chocolate almond bark; Van Winkle's Opera Fudge. secret weapon Location—Michael Holahan's shop in the Reading Terminal Market brings more than a dozen of the area's best chocolatiers to the masses.
Chocolate Tree (507 Carteret St., Beaufort, S.C.; 843/524-7980)
Special Treat Dark chocolatepecan tiger paws. secret weapon The Green family's annual open house, in August. Customers line up for their chance at a $10, two-hour, all-you-can-eat shift.
Morkes Chocolates (1890 N. Rand Rd., Palatine, Ill.; 847/359-3454)
Special Treat Milk-chocolate mint melt-aways. secret weapon Caramel apples—Morkes hand-dips more than 250,000 Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Michigan Jonathans each fall.
Chess sets, Academy Award statues, and life-size high heels are among the unusual chocolate creations crafted by this family-owned company. Originally established in Chicago in 1920, the shop moved to its current location in Palatine in 1967. Housed in a standalone white building, the store contains hardwood floors, pale yellow walls, and long glass cases filled with specialty chocolates. Signature confections include the Pecan Puppets (roasted pecans covered in homemade caramel and chocolate), and the Mint Silk Duets (milk and white chocolates blended with pure peppermint and coconut oils). Also popular are the caramel apples and the made-from-scratch cake doughnuts.
Pennsylvania General Store
Housed inside the Reading Terminal Market, this gourmet food and souvenir shop specializes in locally made sweets, snacks, and crafts, all of which are available individually and in elaborate gift baskets. Established in 1987, the store contains wood-and-glass display cases filled with everything from Zitner chocolate eggs to Hope’s freshly baked cookies and Asher’s milk chocolate toffee pretzels. The shop also stocks a wide variety of Pennsylvania Dutch goods, including Bauman’s apple butter, pure maple syrup, and shoofly pie. Souvenir options range from coffee mugs to quilted potholders.