Chicago has been called America's candy capital since the late 1800s, and for much of its history, a third of all candies made in the United States were made here.
Iconic candy names like Snickers, Butterfingers, Wrigley, Tootsie Rolls, Lemonheads, Cracker Jack -- and many more -- have all been produced in the Chicago area over the last century.
So how and why did so many candy makers come to craft their delicious confections in Chicago?
Visitors to the Geneva History Center, 113 S. Third St., Geneva, will find out when they experience the traveling exhibit, Sweet Home Chicago: The History of America's Candy Capital, on display at Geneva History Center from Saturday, May 3, to Saturday, Nov. 1. Sweet Home Chicago chronicles the city's candy crafting legacy in an engaging, interactive exhibit for all ages.
From corner shops to candy factories, from mom-and-pop shops on neighborhood corners to huge factories churning out sweets by the millions, Chicago's candy-making story is one that started with skilled immigrants bringing their European craftsmanship to the city. Factor in Chicago's burgeoning role as a transportation hub and the result was a perfect combination for making every type of candy, from handcrafted chocolates in local kitchens to candy bars on the assembly line. Chicago, it would seem, had many of the right factors at the right time in history to become a national center for making candy.
Sweet Home Chicago is a regional traveling exhibition created by the Elmhurst Historical Museum in collaboration with Leslie Goddard, PhD. Goddard's recently published book, "Chicago's Sweet Candy History" (Arcadia), is the basis for the exhibit storyline.
Some of the special features visitors will encounter in the Sweet Home Chicago exhibit include interactive displays featuring interesting photographs, candy fun facts, and unique artifacts; clever advertisements used by early candy makers to sell their wares; an original documentary narrated by Bill Kurtis called "Candyland USA."
Sweet Home Chicago: The History of America's Candy Capital will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, May 3 through Nov. 1, and is sponsored in part by Geneva Bank & Trust and Graham's Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream.
Admission is $2 each or free for museum members. For the latest information details on the exhibit, visit www.genevahistorycenter.org or call (630) 232-4951.