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Caught Our Eyes: Last Minute Shopping

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Have you left your holiday shopping to the last minute? Hoping you can find that perfect gift just minutes before the stores close? Well, it turns out shopping on Christmas Eve – and fighting the crowds to do it – is nothing new, if this photograph from December 24, 1920 is any indication:

Fannie May Candy Co., 12/24/20. Photo by National Photo Company, 1920.
Fannie May Candy Co., 12/24/20. Photo by National Photo Company, 1920.

Several things about this photo caught my eye: the date, the long line of people and the name Fannie May Candy. While the date seems to explain the anxious shoppers, the last bit of information left me scratching my head. Fannie May has been a Chicago candy-making institution going back almost one hundred years. However, this photograph is part of the National Photo Company Collection, which focuses on Washington, D.C. The sign advertising the Washington Dance Academy and the street sign confirms this shop is, in fact, in the nation’s capital.

A bit of research left me with more questions than answers, since Fannie May opened their first shop in Chicago in 1920, and the confections (supposedly) didn’t make an appearance in D.C. until around World War II.

Maybe Fannie May pioneered the ‘pop-up store’, opening just long enough to satisfy Washington, D.C.’s sweet tooth?

Maybe this Fannie May Candy is not connected to the one in Chicago?

The possibilities are many and there are more photos to explore and resources like digitized newspapers which might offer clues. I leave the question for you to ponder – after you finish that last minute shopping, of course!

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Comments (4)

  1. This is awesome, thanks! Merry Christmas to everyone at the LOC!

  2. WHATever THe case, EVEN where/to/fore CaNdY to BE ThE dentists b.A.n.E., it is AT – – – LEAST, s.o.l.U

  3. I love the peek at the hotel signs for the Raleigh Hotel (was on 12th and Penn NW) and the Hotel Harrington (still around on 11th).

  4. Kristi – I did see some want ads in the December 1919 Washington Post looking for an “Experienced chocolate and bonbon dipper” for the Fannie May Candy Co. Applicants (female only) were to apply at 1010 E St. NW. I saw a building permit in a Chronicling America article, for a sign on 13th so it looks like Fannie May was in DC from their very beginning.

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