Linda tells us that Ritu, who recently signed a pretty sweet deal with a publisher this past week, chose today’s prompt word, "chocolate." Be sure you stop by her blog and offer your congratulations, if you haven’t already done so.
Chicago was a pretty big chocolate town, now that I think about it. We had several processors of it in the Chicago area: World’s Finest, which produced chocolate bars mostly for fundraising; Tootsie Roll, who had their main plant on South Cicero Avenue, south of Midway Airport; Brach’s, who more or less specialized in chocolate candy, although they also made hard candy and caramels; and Dove, probably best known for the Dove bar, an ice cream bar covered in their chocolates.
There were a couple, though, that were special. One was Fannie May, who’s still in business. They got their start in 1920 with one store on LaSalle Street in the Loop, selling Buttercreams. Over the years they introduced many more specialities, including Pixies, which were caramel and pecans shaped like a turtle and covered in chocolate (they weren’t called Turtles because that name was already taken), and our favorites, the Mint Meltaways, small square pieces of mint-flavored chocolate covered in chocolate or white chocolate (dyed light green). Those are a mite tasty, if you know what I mean.
Then there were Frango Mints, which were sold by Marshall Field’s, who acquired the recipe when they purchased Frederick and Nelson out of Seattle. They were pretty much the same as the Meltaways (in fact, I think the Frangos came out before the Meltaways), but with a much more minty flavor. When I worked at Field’s, I sold the Frango mints and also a Frango liqueur. Since Macy’s took over Field’s, the recipe was sold to Garrett’s Popcorn, another Chicago company.
Baby Ruth and Butterfinger are made in Chicago by the Curtiss Candy Company, or what used to be Curtiss (it’s now owned by Ferrero, as is Brach’s). For years, there was a rotating sign that advertised both candy bars at their plant. You could see the sign over the right field wall at Wrigley Field.
Of course, we had the usual candy bars, like Almond Joy and Mounds from the Peter Paul Company, Milky Way and Snickers (and others) from Mars (who bought another Chicago confectioner, Wrigley’s).
I can’t help it: I’m into candy and business…