The Linden Room of the Levy Senior Center slowly filled to capacity on Tuesday, October 9 as people gathered to hear Dr. Leslie Goddard speak about Chicago’s storied history as a hub of candy manufacturing. According to Goddard's research, Chicago was the home to one-third of all the candy manufacturing in the 20th-century United States. Three factors worked in tandem to facilitate this sweet revolution: rail transportation, immigration, and industrialization.
Goddard discussed several examples of hometown “sweet" business success stories including, such as Blommer Chocolate, Juicy Fruit gum, Fannie May Homemade Candies, and Brach’s Confections. Blommer Chocolate, created by the Blommer brothers in 1939, still processes more than 45% of cocoa beans in the country.
Another Chicago sweets creator, Salvatore Ferrara, began selling candy-coated panned almonds from his storefront in 1908. More than 100 years later, Ferrara's company still manufactures Lemonheads, Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans, Jaw Breakers (later rebranded as Jaw Busters) and Black Forest candies, among many others.
The audience was spellbound by Goddard’s presentation and snacked on sweets provided by the Levy Senior Center Foundation, host of the Levy Lecture Series. A sweet time was had by all who attended!