Friday, October 29, 2010

Candy Capital

Halloween = candy = Chicago. That's right: Chicago is the nation's Candy Capital, home to factories making treats such as Snickers, Lemonheads and Tootsie Rolls.

The sweetness started in the early 1900s, thanks to the city's large immigrant population (bringing their confection recipes from the Old World) and crossroads location (rail and waterway hub to ship the goods). At one time, Brach's chocolates, Peerless peppermints, Fannie May Frango Mints, M&M Mars candy bars, and Wrigley chewing gum perfumed the air. Many have now fizzled or moved production to cheaper locations.

Still, Chicago retains some fine tooth-rotting opportunities:

1. Blommer Chocolate Factory - It wafts the shoot-your-own-mother-in-the-kneecaps-to-get-to-it aroma that permeates the Loop. The company mostly processes chocolate for mega-companies like Nabisco, but there's an outlet store that sells chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate drops, and chocolate everything else for cheap.

2. Ferrara Pan Factory - The folks who make Lemonheads, Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans, Orangeheads, Grapeheads and Jawbusters also have a wee outlet store that sells the goods in bulk for a ridiculous $1.50 per pound.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chiclone Remnants

The great 'Chicago Cyclone' blew through yesterday, making the Windy City windier than usual. You probably heard the hype:

•    The storm's barometric pressure was equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane
•    60 mph winds in the city, 20-foot waves on Lake Michigan
•    More ferocious than the storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 (admit it: you're humming the Gordon Lightfoot tune right now)
•    Gusty enough to close the Willis Tower (nee Sears Tower) 103rd floor observatory 

That's all nice in theory, but here's how it hit home - literally. An inventory of what the gales of October dropped in my yard:

•    Eureka vacuum cleaner (box only)
•    Neighbor's roses
•    Orange ball
•    White cat (who wouldn't sit for the portrait)