Southern Agenda

Praline Dreams

A sensory wave washes over visitors as they walk into River Street Sweets in Savannah: the smell of chocolate and caramel bear claws stacked in the display case; a rainbow of ice cream, sprinkles, and taffy; the sound of children’s—and adults’—giggles as they sample treats hot out of the fudge pots. Savannah’s iconic candy shop along the waterfront marks its fiftieth anniversary this year. “We started out as a gift shop,” says Jennifer Strickland, who runs the store and its franchised locations with her brother, Tim. “It wasn’t too successful—and there were only six or seven businesses on the street at the time—but our founders, my parents and my grandma, believed in River Street.” In the seventies, a trip to Atlanta and a serendipitous fudge tasting by eleven-year-old Tim led to the purchase of two massive fudge pots and a shift in the business model. The Stricklands also started making pecan pralines, with fresh cream, sugar, butter, “and all Georgia pecans,” Tim says. “The oil in the pecans makes it so flavorful and cuts the sweetness.” Today those pralines account for about 40 percent of sales.