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Museum displays Chicago candy history

Saturday, July 28, 2012

From Fannie May and Brach's Candies to Tootsie Rolls and Lemonheads, Chicago has a tasty history of producing candy loved the world over.

One of the sweeter chapters of Chicago's history is on display at the Elmhurst Historical Museum.

That's where the exhibit called Sweet Home Chicago takes a look at how the city came to be known as the candy capital of the world.

"This particular industry made its home here in Chicago and you touch this every day," said Lance Tawzer. "You see it at the grocery store."

At the height of the candy manufacturing industry in Chicago, spanning from world war two to the 1980s, more than 100 different candy companies called Chicago home and a third of all the candies in the US were made in Chicago.

"Wrigley is here, Mars has factories here," Tawzer said. "You have the Ferrara Pan Candy Company is here, Tootsie Roll is here. You could go on and on and on."

Tawzer says Chicago was attractive to candy makers because it was easily accessible by transpiration and the influx of immigrants fed the workforce.

Adults may find the exhibit offers plenty of nostalgia with examples of sweet treats from some of the prominent companies that still have a presence here.

There are also interactive features for kids, where they can practice putting candy in wrappers the old fashioned way by hand.

And they can test their senses by indentifying popular candies based on smell.

In the end, it's a history lesson for the whole family.

"Chicago is one of the most popular famous candy making cities," said Alora Haran.

"I didn't really know that they made all this candy and how they had to make it by hand," said Nathan Burns. "So it was cool to find that out."

It took more than a year for the Elmhurst Historical Museum to assemble Sweet Home Chicago and it's the museum's first traveling exhibit.

It will be in Elmhurst until September 30, then move to the Harold Washington Library, where it will open in December.

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