|Louis XIV Candy Shop at 163 State Street. Published by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago.
the late 1800s, Chicago has been the "home sweet home" of a
number of candy companies, making it known as the "candy capital of the
made an ideal place for candy-making for a variety of reasons. The city’s
location near the center of the U.S. made it a transportation hub, and its
proximity to the Great Lakes made it easy to ship raw ingredients in and
finished products out. Chicago also had a strong labor force made up largely of
immigrants, who worked in candy factories or opened sweet shops using candy
recipes from their homelands.
Gunther is believed to be the first person to produce and sell caramels in
America. An immigrant from Germany, Gunther ran a successful candy factory and
store, first on Clark Street and then later on State Street after he rebuilt
his business following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Columbian Exposition of 1893, Cracker Jack and Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum were
available for fairgoers to sample. A 38-ft. chocolate statue and German
chocolate-processing machines were also on display. Milton Hershey purchased
one of these chocolate-making machines at the fair and used it to make
Hershey's chocolates back in his home state of Pennsylvania.
popularity of William Wrigley Jr.’s gum, which he originally distributed as an
incentive to customers of his soap and baking powder business, inspired him to
switch his facility over to a gum-manufacturing plant. His Spearmint, Juicy
Fruit, and Doublemint gum made Wrigley’s one of the most popular brands of gum
in the country. Wrigley’s has since been acquired by Mars, but it still
maintains a research and development facility on Goose Island.
early 1900s, Chicago was home to over 1,000 candy suppliers. The National Confectionery
Association and The Manufacturing Confectioner magazine were also
founded in Chicago, although these organizations have since moved to other
Brach opened Brach’s Palace of Sweets near North Ave. and Halsted in 1904. His
business would eventually expand to four operating factories, producing mostly
bulk and bagged candy. Brach’s became one of America’s top-selling brands of
candy corn--that Halloween confection many of us love to hate.
|John Kranz Candies on State Street. Postcard publisher is unknown.
The Ferrara candy company was founded in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago in 1908. The company would go on to produce Lemonheads, Red Hots, Chuckles, Jujyfruits, and many others. Ferrara also makes candy canes, jellybeans, and conversation hearts, those chalky candies with the cheeky messages that have become so closely associated with Valentine’s Day. Ferrara’s headquarters are located in the Old Chicago Main Post Office building on Van Buren Street, and it now owns Brach’s candy.
owner H. Teller Archibald opened the first Fannie May candy shop at 11 N.
LaSalle St. in 1920. By the 1930s, the business grew to nearly 50 stores
throughout the Midwest. Fannie May’s Pixies, consisting of a winning
combination of caramel, pecans, and chocolate, would become its most popular
offering. Fannie May shops can still be found throughout the Chicago area.
alcohol being illegal during the years of Prohibition (1920-1933), many bars across
the country reopened as candy or soda shops. Schlitz taverns throughout
Chicago followed this trend. Many breweries also switched to manufacturing
sweets, finding new ways to use malt in ice cream drinks and candies like
malted milk balls.
Marshall Field & Company introduced its recipe for Frango Mints. These mint
chocolate truffles were made in large melting pots on the 13th Floor of
Marshall Field’s State Street store for nearly 70 years. Production of the
candies has since moved out of state. However, the giant pots are still on
display and Frango Mints can still be purchased at the State Street store,
which is now a Macy’s.
half of the country’s processed cocoa comes from the Blommer Chocolate Company,
a chocolate wholesaler founded in Chicago in 1939. Blommer now operates chocolate
processing plants across the globe. If the wind is blowing in
just the right direction, you can smell the chocolate in the downtown air
thanks to the Blommer processing plant that still operates today at 600 W.
Kinzie in the West Loop.
|Gunther's Confectionery on State Street. Postcard publisher is unknown.
Today, Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars are manufactured in suburban Franklin Park. Chicago is home to the Tootsie Roll factory on the South Side, which has been in operation since the late 1960s, and a Mars chocolate factory on the North Side, which has its own stop on Metra’s Milwaukee District West line. (As a side note, when I was a kid my older sister had me convinced me that this building was Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory.)
The next time you unwrap a piece of candy or take a bite of something sweet, chances are it has some connection to Chicago, the “Candyland” of the U.S.
Written by Emily Ruzich
Chicago Loop Alliance: https://loopchicago.com
L Stop Tours blog: https://lstoptours.com/blog
University of Chicago Library website:
https://lib.uchicago.edu (“History of Chocolate and Candy Making in Chicago”)