CHICAGO — Did you know Chicago is known as the “Candy Capital of the World?” Home to legendary brands and a high concentration of manufacturers, some of the most popular candies in the world are made right here. Even the National Confectioners Association was formed in Chicago in 1884, and the organization holds its Sweets and Snacks Expo here every year. So it’s no surprise it’s known as “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Here are 10 popular sweets that can all call the Chicago-area home:
Yes, many of those delicious round chocolate candies made by Mars Inc., roll their way out of facilities in Chicagoland. The colorful, button-shaped candies were actually inspired by Smarties before they went into production in the 1940s. Now the candy is sold in more than 100 countries and is the top-selling chocolate candy in the U.S., with over $688 million in sales in 2017 alone.
Lemonheads (Ferrara Pan Candy)
These sour treats were invented by Chicago’s very own Ferrara Pan Candy company in the 1960s. The brainchild of Italian baker Salvatore Ferrara, who emigrated to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century to set up a confectionary shop, Lemonheads have been a favorite of the once family-owned business. Ferrera was recently bought by the maker of another popular sweet: Nutella’s parent company Ferrero.
Chocolate (The Blommer Chocolate Company)
The largest chocolate manufacturer in North America began right here in Chicago — and still remains a family business. Henry Blommer and his two brothers, Al and Bernard, founded the company in 1939. The company has been passed down through generations of Blommers. The company began its expansion in the 40s and 50s, opening facilities in California. It now holds plants in Chicago, California, Pennsylvania and Ontario, and is a favorite among chocolate lovers nationwide.
Candy Corn (Brach’s)
Brach’s has made some of the most iconic sugary treats known today. Now headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., Brach’s was acquired by the Ferrara Candy Company in 2007. But the company’s roots go back to 1904 when Emile Brach opened his “Brach’s Palace of Sweets” in Chicago. Brach’s Candy Corn, made with real honey, is a favorite on Halloween.
Cracker Jack (Frito-Lay)
Cracker Jacks are an icon among American snacks, and they began more than 100 years ago in Chicago when German immigrant Frederick William Rueckheim began selling popcorn on what is now Federal Street in Chicago.
The term “cracker-jack” was an old-time term meaning “fantastic.” A couple of decades later, the company began putting a prize in every box, and the rest is history.
This chocolate, peanut and caramel treat got its start in Chicago. Mars Inc., which now holds facilities all over the U.S. and Canada, relocated from Minneapolis to Chicago in 1929, opening a plant that still exists today. In 1930, the Snickers brand was launched, and the treat was once ranked by Bloomberg as America’s No. 4 favorite candy. Given its local roots, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Snickers was recently ranked as Illinois’ favorite Halloween candy by review site Influenster. Mars seems to like Chicago too – as the company plans to move its North American headquarters to Goose Island.
Tootsie Roll (Tootsie Roll Industries)
Tootsie Roll Industries are headquartered — you guessed it — right here in the Windy City. The company boasts two of the most iconic candies in the country: Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll pops. Tootsie Rolls are known for their unique texture, similar to taffy but also different, as well as their flavor, which boasts hints of both chocolate and fruit. Its also known for its long-lasting chewiness. Tootsie Rolls were the first penny candies to ever be individually wrapped.
Wrigley is one of the true Chicago brands. Founded in 1891 by William Wrigley Jr., the Wrigley company has been putting smiles on people in Chicago and throughout the U.S. ever since. It began by selling baking powder and soap, but has since been known for mints, candies and perhaps most of all, its gum. Wrigley gum quickly became consumers’ favorite product, and that remains the case. Wrigley is in many ways synonymous with Chicago — its name still featured on the Cubs’ ballpark — and still operates from Goose Island.
Frango Mints (Marshall Field and Company/Macy’s)
For those who love the blend of chocolate and mint, it’s hard to top Frango Mints. Though they got their start out west in Seattle, it was Chicago’s Marshall Field and Company that popularized them in the Midwest. Frango Mints remained even after Macy’s took over the iconic Chicago department store, and they are now produced by the retail juggernaut. The famous State Street-produced treats are still a favorite for post-dinner snacks or gifts.