When I was a kid and my world was very small, I knew of 2 bakeries: Eiselen's and Roma's. Since we never shopped at Roma's, I thought Eiselen's was the best bakery in the world. Just walking through the front door, my mouth started to water at the sight of the cookies and danish in the cases combined with the smell of the cakes baking in the kitchen. Even if we weren't buying anything, I stopped in to soak up the environment. I wanted to work there. I wasn't concerned at that point in my life about how much bakers pulled in annually, or how much time they spent on their feet...the sweet smells and beautiful colored baked goods was all I was concerned about.
I never did end up working there at Eiselen's. I learned early on that waitressing was a bit more lucrative than working retail. I moved away from the area, so despite the fond memories, I haven't been in the shop for years. My sister forwarded me an article today written by Dana Eiselen, daughter of the owner. It seems the future of the shop is uncertain as the owner's kids are looking at careers outside of baking. It's a good read. I think the owner spoke very eloquently about how people love the flavors that have become familiar to them over the years.
Philly has a fair amount of family run bakeries, probably more than most cities these days. The cookies pictured above, which we picked up over the holidays, are from Isgro's bakery in South Philly. These family businesses provide you with a little slice of local flavor...you might love their stuff from the first bite, you might grow to love it or maybe just you eat it because it reminds you of home. My point is, when you are about to buy that Cinnamon Chip scone at Starbucks or drive to Krispy Kreme, take a second to see if there are any mom and pop shops around and sample their goods instead. You might just discover something wonderful!