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The Franklin Fountain

Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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Tasty Frozen Treats in Historic Philadelphia

An experience steeped in ideals, drizzled with drollery, and sprinkled with the forgotten flavors of the American past.
 

The History

The Franklin Fountain is an old fashioned ice cream parlor and soda fountain located in the middle of historic Old City Philadelphia.  With its retro style and historic surroundings, visitors to Franklin Fountain can’t be blamed for thinking that the Franklin Fountain has been a Philadelphia landmark for decades.
 
Shockingly however, Franklin Fountain is barely even one decade old, tracing its opening to just 2004.   
 
In 2003, brothers Ryan and Eric Berley and their family had just purchased an early 1900s building on the 100 block of Market Street.  With renovations on the upstairs apartments completed, the Berley Brothers now had to figure out what they planned to do with the building’s first floor retail space; which at the time contained an erotic bakery.  Both brothers enjoyed history as Eric worked as a tour guide at the nearby Christ Church and Christ Church Burial Ground (Both stops on The Constitutional Walking Tour) and Ryan was an antiques trader.   Their historic appreciation and the unique old fashioned style of the storefront led Ryan to suggest the creation of an authentic ice cream parlor and soda fountain.  Once they had a plan, work began on painstakingly restoring the store to its historic grandeur.
 
The Franklin Fountain - view from Market Street
 
The brothers took a toad trip to the National Ice Cream Retailer’s Convention in New Orleans and along the way they tried to stop at anything that even resembled and old fashioned soda fountain for inspiration.  Using that inspiration they were able to design a soda fountain that looked as though it had operated in Philadelphia for generations.  They decided to name the business “The Franklin Fountain” paying tribute to Benjamin Franklin, the powerful enlightenment thinker who once resided just footsteps away from their storefront.  When the Franklin Fountain opened at the end of the summer of 2004 they quickly became a staple of Old City Philadelphia and today Franklin Fountain is even considered the best ice cream shop in Pennsylvania!
 

What to See

Stepping in Franklin Fountain transports you back to a time in American history when every town had a soda fountain.  From the detailed molding, to the tin ceilings, everything inside Franklin Fountain looks authentic.  Even those serving your food are dressed up like an authentic “Soda Jerk” from the early 20th Century.  But as nice as the scenery is, the real reason to come to Franklin Fountain is of course the ice cream! 
 
The success of Franklin Fountain begins with the quality of their ice cream.  The ice cream is homemade with milk and cream from nearby Berks and Lancaster Counties, while the fruit, nuts and chocolates that are incorporated into the flavors are all obtained locally.  The most local ingredient is the honey used in their Honey Comb Ice Cream which is produced right on the roof of Franklin Fountain!  Their many delicious flavors range from standards like Vanilla Bean and Mint Chocolate Chip to unique creations like Green Tea, Maple Walnut and Cotton Candy.  All of these flavors taste great in a standard cup or cone, but to truly experience the whimsical creativity of Franklin Fountain you have to try one of their sundaes or soda fountain concoctions.
 
The Franklin Fountain
 
Among the standout sundaes at Franklin Fountain is “The Lightening Rod” which is described as “ a battery of dark chocolate brownie pieces charged with coffee ice cream bathed in a shot of espresso and zapped by chocolate covered espresso beans, white chocolate shavings and conducted by a salty pretzel rod.”  Guests can also try the “Maple Leaf Rag” which consists of “two dipperfulls of chocolate or banana ice cream, shellacked in pure maple walnuts, the syncopated sweetness cut by the sting of prickly pineapple, crushed fresh, all keyed up with whipped cream.”
 
But as inventive as Franklin Fountain’s sundaes are, if you’re looking for a truly unique treat, head for the part of the menu titled “From the Fountain.”  Franklin Fountain of course serves up classic soda and ice cream concoctions such as a root beer float, made with their own root beer recipe, but Franklin Fountain also goes far beyond root beer floats. For a real unique blast from the past, try a phosphate, options include the Japanese Thirst Killer Phosphate or the War Admiral Phosphate which includes adventurous flavors like ginger and rose.  You can even get a "New York egg cream" which is a soda fountain classic that involves mixing soda water, milk and vanilla or chocolate syrup.
 

Insider Tips

Part of the reason why Franklin Fountain is so tasty is the fact that all of the candies used in their sundaes and other ice cream concoctions come from an historic candy confectionery which is conveniently located right next store.  Shane Confectionery has been making candy on their premises on Market Street since 1863 and has operated their store since 1911.  The handmade sweets span the breadth of just about every imaginable type of candy such as chocolates, caramels, taffy, candy fruit slices and fudge.  So when you head to Franklin Fountain on your trip to Philadelphia, make sure you also stop in next door to bring something sweet home with you as well.
 
The Franklin Fountain
 

How to Get There

Franklin Fountain is just two blocks away from Franklin Court which is one of the stops on The Constitutional Walking Tour, so it is very easily accessible for those visiting the historic sites in Old City.  Guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour will begin and end their tour at the National Constitution Center and from there they can walk one block south to Market and four blocks east to easily reach Franklin’s Fountain by foot.  Franklin Fountain is also mere steps away from the 2nd Street Station on the Market Frankford Line making a trip by public transit a breeze.  On street parking is hard to find in the immediate vicinity of Franklin Fountain, but there are a number of parking lots and garages nearby by to serve those who are traveling by car.
 

Hours

Sun - Thurs: 11:00am - 12:00am
Fri-Sat: 11:00am - 1:00am

Additional Information

116 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA19106
215.627.1899
 

 
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