Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Chicago's Sweet Candy History by Leslie Goddard

In the 1860s and 1870s, Chicago business people began to make candy, usually hard candies that would not melt or spoil in those days before air conditioning. As markets grew, small kitchens gave way to factories, and thanks to its central location with a strong network of railroads headed to all parts of the country, Chicago became the national center of the candy industry. Many of the biggest candy companies began or grew in Chicago, including Curtiss, Brach, Wrigley, and Mars. Librarian Leslie Goddard recounts the history through pictures in her Images of America book Chicago's Sweet Candy History.

Readers of Chicago's Sweet Candy History are in for some surprises and perhaps some laughs. I was particularly amused by how hard some of the candy makers promoted their sweets as healthy foods. On page 39 is an advertisement by Bunte Brothers telling how their healthy candies were empowering American soldiers in World War I. The two ads on page 82 suggested athletes perform better after eating candy. Some people just needed a bit of candy to get through a work day, as seen in an ad on page 81. "Candy is delicious food - enjoy some everyday" was the slogan pushed by the National Confectioners Association in 1938. It was no coincidence that Chicago also became a center for advertising agencies.

I enjoyed reading about candies that disappeared, such as Alexander the Grape, the Amos 'n' Andy Bar, the Lindy Bar, Fluffy Ruffles, and the Reggie Bar. I also liked learning the history behind some of my favorite candies. Did you know that the original Three Musketeers had three pieces? Each had a different filling - chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. That would be worth traveling through time to try.

Many Images of America books are of interest only to the communities they celebrate, but Chicago's Sweet Candy History should have more national appeal, for former children everywhere will remember eating Cracker Jacks, Milk Duds, Tootsie Rolls, Butterfingers, Lemonheads, Snickers, and Atomic Fire Balls.

Goddard, Leslie. Chicago's Sweet Candy History. Arcadia Publishing, 2012. 128p. ISBN 9780738593821.


Donna said...

I hadn't seen this book. Thanks for the review. I'm going to request it from the library.

Laura said...

She's a wonderful speaker as well. I saw her in Arlington Heights.