Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-10-2009, 06:54 PM
yooperann yooperann is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3
Is it true that the way sugar was shipped made Chicago #1 in candy?

Now that Cecil has debunked my favorite Chicago story (the one about why streets jog at North Avenue ), I am daring to ask whether there's any truth in another wonderful story that I've often repeated but somehow can't really prove

The Encyclopedia of Chicago History http://http://www.encyclopedia.chica...pages/468.html confirms that Chicago held the #1 candy manufacturing spot at the turn of the 20th century and for some years thereafter. Somewhere along the line I heard that this was related to Chicago's location as a rail hub--specially that sugar was shipped F.O.B. Chicago, so that if you put your candy company in Chicago you could hold down your shipping costs for sugar, hence reducing your costs and increasing your profits. It's a great story, and people are always impressed when I tell it (usually as I pass the abandoned Brach's plant on the Green Line or Ferrara Pan Candy on the Blue), but after the scales fell from my eyes on the North Avenue story I started to wonder if this is equally fanciful.

Old 11-13-2009, 09:43 AM
Mr Downtown Mr Downtown is offline
Chicago Savant
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chicago
Posts: 2,247
Corn syrup was usually quoted FOB Chicago--most of it was made in Summit or Decatur--but not sugar. Chicago was, however, well positioned to get beet sugar from the northern Plains or cane sugar from the Gulf Coast via a single railroad routing. Chicago was a center for making everything, because raw materials could easily converge here and finished products could be easily distributed to the whole continent. And having all those Germans around in the 19th century (skilled in candy making, with a taste for the stuff) probably also played a rôle.

Last edited by Mr Downtown; 11-13-2009 at 09:46 AM.
Old 11-13-2009, 11:45 AM
yooperann yooperann is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3
Thank you, Mr. Downtown! I found this article which also suggests access to dairy and lots of cool months also helped.
Old 11-19-2009, 07:49 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago's Northside
Posts: 2,558
Don't ask me how I knew about this but there's a fairly large (and old and cool) cane sugar processing facility near the courthouse at 26th/Calif.

Sugar comes in by barge and railcars. It's processed and taken away on pallets of consumer bags/boxes/canisters and tanker trucks.

Google overhead photo: here

They share a driveway with an El Milagro tortilla factory, too.
Old 11-19-2009, 10:11 PM
yooperann yooperann is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3
Now that is really cool! Right by Animal Care and Control as well, I see. From the Google street view it looks abandoned. How neat that it's not. Thank you!
Old 03-15-2010, 04:19 PM
Johnny Sunshine Johnny Sunshine is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1
Cool months and quick delivery

I remember reading some years ago in a book on Chicago history that the main reason that candy manufacture concentrated in the city was that, before cheap refrigeration, it had more cool months in which the candy could be manufactured, and situated as it is/was at the heart of the railroad distribution network, its products could be delivered to consumers quickly, before they melted, perhaps using the same refrigerator car network that meat used.
Old 03-17-2010, 11:24 AM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: In the land of OO-bla-dee
Posts: 10,612
Sorry we didn't update this sooner:


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:44 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017