Located on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, MA, Candy Mart was a vintage sweets shop in its prime. Shot in 1941, this image captures a Cambridge storefront during the city’s confectionery boom. With 66 thriving candy manufacturing companies, sweets became Cambridge’s second largest industry. The area’s rich confectionery history goes way back—the country’s first chocolate mill opened in neighboring Dorchester in 1765, and the first candy-making machine was invented in Boston in 1847 (leading to those legendary Valentine’s Sweethearts). Cambridge itself was home to some of candy’s heaviest hitters like NECCO, Nabisco, Junior Mints, Charleston Chews, and Fig Newtons.
Cambridge had the ideal candy climate with chilly temperatures and easy access to the overseas molasses and sugar trades. During Prohibition, these products—main ingredients in the production of alcohol—were in robust supply and Cambridge residents were in need of an alternative vice. Such sweet serendipity.
Image source: Cambridge Historical Commission
A sign in the window of Candy Mart advertises “Valentine’s Conversation Hearts” at 15¢ a pound. You might know these as Sweethearts, the chalky heart-shaped Valentine’s staple from now defunct (RIP!) Necco. These time-honored little treats date back to 1902. (Fun fact, after a year out of rotation following a change of ownership, Sweethearts will allegedly be back in action this Valentine’s Day.) The view also promises peanut brittle, peppermint patties, boxes upon boxes of chocolate bonbons in neat, mesmerizing rows, and a dizzying array of other delights. The 40s-era lettering is equally delicious-looking—bold, all-caps, and unornamented. Subtlety in commercial design wasn’t popular at the time. It was all about big, in-your-face signage with modern-feeling, simplified but striking forms. And of course the cool lettering is repeated all across the storefront. Can’t miss this Candy Mart ... Read more on the blog!
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Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta
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