Sometimes, if you wait 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 opened a second location in San Francisco on Nov. 19. Through the windows at 1422 Market St. you can watch brothers Chris and Mike Graves hand-dip their caramels in small batches, using a recipe from the 1920s by the original 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 buttercreams 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 confectionery 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 $11.48, and more often than not, ships while it's still warm.
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 buttercreams. "And I'm enjoying seeing these old streetcars go by."