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Megan Hickey/ MEDILL

Local gourmet chocolatiers are helping Chicago regain its title as the "Candy Capital."

A comeback for the Candy Capital of the World

by Megan Hickey
Nov 20, 2012


Megan Hickey/MEDILL

Many of Chicago's candy makers moved operations out of town to take advantage of lower sugar prices.

Candy giants such as Fannie May, Brachs and Primrose Candy Co. were once a huge part of Chicago's candy manufacturing industry. That is until all three companies were decided to move their Chicago plants out of state or abroad due, in part, to the rising cost of American sugar. The average price of a pound of sugar in the U.S. is about 25 cents higher than the world average, making foreign production an increasingly attractive alternative.

Many boutique chocolate stores have filled the void left by manufacturers. These chocolate artisans are following in the footsteps of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, the Chicago-based luxury chocolatier known for its pairings that use bacon and other savory flavors and spices.

And there's no better time for these local sellers than the winter holidays. According to the National Confectioners Association, about 13 percent of total holiday spending is on seasonal sweets.

The National Retail Federation is expecting holiday sales to increase by 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, and for weeks chocolate vendors have been seeing an increase in sales in anticipation of Thanksgiving.