Sometimes, if you endure long enough, the trends come to you.
That's the way it is for Littlejohn's Candies, a Los Angeles institution for 88 years that has opened a second location in San Francisco on Nov. 19. Through the windows at 1422 Market Street you can watch brothers Chris and Mike Graves hand-dip their caramels in small batches, using a recipe that dates to the original 1920s owners, whom Mike bought out in 1984.
At present an exact double of the original in terms of products, the new Littlejohn's will eventually tailor its offerings to San Francisco's palate, with bacon salted caramels and butter creams filled with things like açai -- all of them hand-dipped on-site. For the record, hand-dipping allows a softer center that machines would probably tear apart. It's not so much the way Grandma made it as the way Great-Great-Grandma made it.
From English toffee to pecan rolls, chocolate-covered marzipan to divinity (an airy, nougat-y confection made with fresh walnuts), Littlejohn's has its repertory down. While the confectionary company doesn't make any explicitly seasonal candies, it does offer complimentary gift wrap in both Christmas and non-denominational foils. A half-pound box of toffee runs only $11.48, and more often than not, ships while it's still warm.
How many things can really claim to have lasted 88 years in L.A.? (Yeah: like, none.) The build-out for the San Francisco shop involved sanding down 1890s iron beams and jackhammering through inches of concrete to expose the wooden floors, so this location ought to match the original's longevity. "There's a romance with some things being done the way they always were," Mike Graves says, adroitly dipping some mocha butter creams. "And I'm enjoying seeing these old street cars go by."
Littlejohn's Candies, 1422 Market (at Polk), 252-8320, littlejohnscandies.com.