Great Expectations of a Whitman Sampler

Maude Adams as L' Aiglon

Here’s another advertisement from the program/souvenir booklet for the play L’Aiglon starring Maude Adams which played in Philadelphia at The Broad Street Theater back in 1901. At first, I thought this was a pioneer advertisement for a push gift. You know – have a baby, get a Whitman’s Sampler. However, back in the turn of the century, ads for being in the “family way” were taboo. So I guess this gal was getting a box of Cashew Clusters, Cherry Cordials and Maple Fudge from her suitor just because!

Interesting to note that Whitman’s Chocolates began in Philadelphia by Stephen F. Whitman. According to Wikipedia:

  • Originally a “confectionery and fruiterer shoppe” set up in 1842 by 19 year old Stephen F. Whitman on the Philadelphia waterfront, Whitman’s first became popular with travelling sailors and their wives. They would often bring imported fruits, nuts and cocoa from their trips back to Mr. Whitman so that he could make the popular European confections people craved in that era. Before long Whitman’s chocolates were popular all along the north-eastern section of the United States.
  • The first prepackaged Whitman’s candy was produced in 1854. It was a box of sugar plums adorned with curlicues and rosebuds. Whitman began advertising in newspapers shortly before the beginning of the Civil War. The business thrived and in 1866 an entire building at 12th and Market Streets in Philadelphia was taken over by the company. In 1877, Instantaneous Chocolates were introduced in tin boxes that became much admired.
  • Whitman’s introduced the perennially popular and still best selling Whitman’s Sampler in 1912. This marked the first use of cellophane by the candy industry.
  • The company has maintained a longstanding tradition of supporting American servicemen and servicewomen during wartime. During World War I millions of tins were shipped to American soldiers throughout the world. During World War II, women at the Whitman’s production line secretly slipped handwritten notes of encouragement into candy boxes to help soothe soldiers’ homesickness.

Sadly, Whitman and son have long since departed the address listed on the ad. A search of 1316 Chestnut Street reveals the place to be a run-down, seedy storefront that I’ve passed a million times. An Internet search has revealed that the property is owned by that religious cult that was founded by a hack science fiction writer and which counts many major Hollywood stars as its members. The last time I passed the place, a wino handed me a flier for a free stress test.


This entry was posted in Blast from the Past, Curious Clutter, Philadelphia and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Great Expectations of a Whitman Sampler

  1. Whitman’s eventually opened a factory in N.E. Philly, located at 9701 ROOSEVELT BLVD, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 19117.

    Russell Stover Candy Co. purchased Whitman’s in June 1993, displacing 700 employees.

    The site that was once Whitman’s Chocolate factory in N.E. Philly, is Now Whitman Square, a shopping plaza with Famous Daves, Chick-fil-a, Walmart, etc.

  2. Tina says:

    Thank you for sharing your wealth of geographical knowledge of the Northeast, Mr. Cucinotta!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.