On a cold day in December, I was window shopping in the West Portal area. I find a store with red and white pinstripe in their awning and thought how festive. Little did I know then that I walked into Shaw's of San Francisco, a candy store institution that has been around since the 1930's. This place does take me back into time. There are chocolates, jelly beans, and fudge. Also, there are candies sold from long ago like Abba Zabba, Sugar Daddy and Pez. Wait, Pez is still around! If you are looking for great candy gift items, this is the spot! It's great feeling like a kid again when I go to Shaw's. -Janet H.
Since Shaw's is an old establishment, you definitely won't get the "modern" candy shop feel that exist throughout SF today, but its the great simplicity that makes Shaw's so unique. You really do feel like you are wandering the streets of an old town Main Street during the turn of the century. -Cassie J.
Shaws is the oldest candy store in San Francisco. First opened in 1931 by Douglas Shaw, it was at one time a chain with 50 locations around the Bay Area. Now there’s just one left, the original location in village-like West Portal. It’s a neighborhood I’ve never been to but have since added to my list of neighborhoods to live in when I want to live in a city but not really (right up there with Noe Valley).
This place makes you feel nostalgic for a time you’re probably too young to have lived through, a more innocent time when people were kinder and kids chewed on candy cigarettes. Jars of saltwater taffy line one wall, Pez and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans the other. It’s not trendy or self-consciously retro. It’s cute but not overly stylized.
Storeowner and long-time local Marissa remembers coming towhen she was a kid.
While she’s reminiscing about her time here, a customer – I’m guessing in his mid-50s – chimes in to share his own childhood memories of.
As it turns out, he and Marissa went to the same high school (though their graduation dates are decades apart). She tells me these types of encounters aren’t uncommon.
This place is a neighborhood institution and has been for almost a century. The selection of candy is vast, but this mom and pop store is best known for its fudge, made on site by Marissa herself. The most popular flavor is chocolate, but chocolate’s not really my thing so I go for a few pieces of Divinity, a white, nougat-like fudge with a recipe that dates back to the early-twentieth century.
I ask her what the weirdest thing she has is, and she tells me aboutdouble-salt licorice, a Dutch treat that, to most Americans, is anything but. We decide to give it a go. My fiancé spits his out right away. I’m able to tolerate mine (just barely) but I immediately ask for something a little sweeter to cleanse my palate. Mango taffy’ll do.