Musings of a Museum Fanatic: Chicago Candy

1.30.2019

Chicago Candy


When you walk down the candy aisle I'm sure you're thinking about whether or not you should get two packages of Reese's since you're husband will probably eat the first before you can even get to it. Just me? What I'm guessing you don't think about is where all of that amazing goodness came from. Somewhere that candy was developed, made and packaged. Chicago is proud to be home to some amazing and well known candies!

Wrigley Gum
You can't talk Chicago candy and not think about Wrigley. I mean there is an entire baseball field, neighborhood and building named after the company! Wrigley actually started out in 1891 by selling soap and then baking powder. With each of those products he would offer an incentive to purchase them. With the baking powder he would offer packs of chewing gum. Pretty soon the gum became more popular than the baking powder! An empire was born.

He started off with Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gum in 1893. There wouldn't be a new gum in his line until 1914 when Doublemint gum was introduced! Crazy to think these three icons of the gum aisle have been around so long.

Brach's
Emil J. Brach spent $1,000 (which is about 28k today!) to open his North Avenue candy store "Brach's Palace of Sweets". While they started with one kettle soon they had more and were making over 50,000 pounds of candy. In the early 20s they had expended to multiple factories and producing over 2 million pounds of candy per week. Brach's is best known for their seasonal candies such as candy corn and conversation hearts. My personal favorite is the mallowcream pumpkins! In 2007 Brach's was purchased by another candy company who later merged with Ferrara! Keeping it all in the Chicago area.  

Ferrara Pan Candy Company
In 1908, Salvatore Ferrara, an Italian immigrant, settled into Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood and opened up a bakery. Soon his candy coated almonds were out selling any of the bakery treats. Soon Salvatore and his brothers-in-law worked to expand the business. Soon Ferrara was developing some of the most well known candy aisle favorites such as Red Hots in 1930, Atomic Fireball in 1954 and Lemonheads in 1962. Their current headquarters is in Oak Brook, IL. 

The Blommer Chocolate Company
A stone's throw northwest of the Loop, just off the Grand Blue Line stop, you'll encounter a smell that will make your mouth water. That delicious smell is none other than the chocolate being processed at the Blommer Chocolate factory. Opening in 1939 this Chicago company has grown to be the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, processing more than 45% of cocoa beans in the United States. So there is a good chance that the candy bars and fancy chocolates you enjoy came from Blommer Chocolate!

Frango Mints
A Chicago icon Frango mints have their origins dating back to 1918. A Marshall Field competitor had named a chocolate dessert they sold Frango. When Field's acquired the other brand they brought the Frango dessert to Chicago and eventually changed it to the iconic mints we know and love today. There is much more drama to the Frango history with the buying of Marshall Field's by Macy's in the 2000s but no need to bring that up when enjoying a good piece of chocolate. If you were to get one souvenir on your Chicago visit I would definitely get Frango Mints.

Tootsie Roll Industries
Technically Tootsie Roll is an adopted child of Chicago. Starting in the late 1890s in New York the company started moving it's operations to Chicago in the mid 1960s. Since then Tootsie Roll has called the south side neighborhood of Ford City home. Since moving to the Windy City Tootsie Roll has added some big name companies to it's folds including the Charms Company and Andes Candies. While you can't get a tour of the factory in person they have some awesome virtual tours on their website plus you can totally be friends with Mr. Owl on Twitter!

Mars
Another adopted Chicago candy company you'll find is Mars who has been a resident of the Windy City for 90 years now! Just a year after they upgraded to Chicago Mars developed Snickers and soon after 3 Musketeers! So that means those two chocolate staples are a Chicago candy! Mars has had a crazy history of different products and different stories, did you know that they have owned a pet food line for decades? Yeah me either! For way more history than I could share here check out the awesome timeline on their website.

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