The candy maker squeezes drops of poinsettia-red food coloring into a copper pot full of molten sugar and corn syrup. When the thermometer hits 310 degrees, she carries the mixture to a waiting congregation of metal molds, their halves held together with rubber bands, and begins to pour.
Head confectioner Davina Soondrum and her crew use oyster shuckers to free cats and dogs, roosters and sailing ships, rats, elephants and Father Christmases from the molds. In red and green, they catch the light like stained glass. But the women have no time to admire them.
Soondrum estimates several thousand will be needed when her two bosses re-open Shane Confectionery - one of America's oldest candy stores - at 110 Market Street later this month.
Ryan and Eric Berley bought the store from the Shane family in 2010, and the 30- something duo is approaching the candy store with the same respect to the past that is displayed at their old-fashioned ice cream shop, the Franklin Fountain, just a few doors west at 116 Market.
With the building came the Shane recipes, including the one for their famous butter creams that was hand-written by Barry Shane on the back of an envelope. “Local butter, organic sugar, and the best vanilla you can buy,” are the only hints Ryan Berley, 35, gives about the mixture.
The former Shane's owners sold, but did not make, clear toys. These sweet beauties were in the repertoire of another long-time Philadelphia candy family, the Youngs. Their Brewerytown store closed after Harry L. Young Jr. died in 2006. Most of the Berley's clear toy molds, stored in labeled, floor-to-ceiling drawers on an upper floor, were part of the Young's collection.
Made in Philadelphia, the molds have never left the city. Because many confectioners donated this equipment to metal drives during the war, some are quite rare, Ryan Berley says with reverence in his voice. Shane is also among the handful of other local candy makers still operating in Philadelphia, including Lore's Chocolates on South 7th Street and Chocolate By Mueller in the Reading Terminal Market.