You may not know the name, but you've probably seen what John & Kira’s has to offer. Every Wednesday, September through December, their stand is parked in front of the Penn Bookstore during the University Square Farmer’s Market, where they sell trios of chocolates almost too pretty to eat. If you haven't treated yourself to a decadent John & Kira’s chocolate after a midterm, you're doing something wrong. But the message behind the chocolate is just as sweet as the candy itself.

The product of a chance meeting between John, a Wall Street Banker turned chef, and Kira, a dinner party enthusiast and Penn alum, John & Kira’s chocolates are the blend of their eclectic backgrounds. Each product, from something as simple as a square of dark chocolate to intricately painted candy pumpkins, melds Kira’s love of Philadelphia community gardens and John’s background in sustainability. A former chef at our favorite Parents’ Weekend brunch spot, White Dog Cafe, John maintains the cafe’s mission of cooking with only the freshest ingredients. 

"The chocolates are inspired by gardens,” says Kayla Ulsh, the brand’s Sales and Events coordinator. This comes across most clearly in the shapes of their chocolates. They’re molded into ladybugs, butterflies, flowers, and even mushrooms, capturing both the whimsy of a lush garden and the community feel of one, too. Just like how every insect works with flowers to pollinate a scenic garden, John and Kira work with local farms to create something beautiful.

Photo by Beatrice Forman


“Sourcing local ingredients was a no–brainer,” according to Ulsh. Every ingredient is sourced ethically. Take the mint in their signature Urban Garden bar flavor, Mighty Mint, for example. It’s pulled from urban garden programs in Philadelphia elementary schools. Well, what does that mean for you? It means John & Kira’s does more than give you an intense sugar high. It gives you the rush of doing, or at least buying, good. 

You can find John & Kira's at the University Square Farmers Market, stationed at the corner of 36th and Walnut. The decision to vend here, and to take our favorite currency—Dining Dollars—stems from Kira’s alumni status. She wanted to give back to the University in the most meaningful way she could. That’s through food, of course. Accepting Dining Dollars and PennCash “gives students more options to buy local” and offers a break from a routine of dining hall lunches and Starbucks snacks.

If you’re looking for a treat that won’t empty your wallet or fill you with over–processed and artificial flavors, John & Kira’s is the chocolatier for you. Their commitment to fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and intricately beautiful designs differentiates their products from typical candy. Stop by their stand every Wednesday while weather permits, or head to their website to get your delightfully decadent chocolate fix.  


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