Shotwell MFG Co., est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Shotwell’s Popcorn Brittle & 3-to-1 Wax Candy Wrappers, 1920s

Made By: Shotwell MFG Co., 3501 W. Potomac Ave., Chicago, IL

The Shotwell Manufacturing Company is one of Chicago’s forgotten confectionery giants; a former popcorn, candy bar, and marshmallow maker that operated from 1903 to 1952. The firm was notably opportunistic in its business practices—sometimes a tad shady even—and it wouldn’t achieve the longevity or cultural relevance of local rivals like Cracker Jack,

Zeno MFG Co., est. 1890

Museum Artifact: Zeno Chewing Gum Coin-Op Vending Machine, 1908

Made By: Zeno MFG Co., 150-160 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

It’s been more than 100 years since someone first dropped a penny into this porcelain-enameled steel vending machine, jonesing for a fresh stick of “elegant” Zeno chewing gum. By no coincidence, most awareness of the Zeno Manufacturing Company itself has long since been spat from the public consciousness and trampled over by time,

C. Cretors & Co., est. 1885

Museum Artifacts: Cretors Popcorn Wagon Steam Engine, 1908, and Pop Corn Carton, 1920s

Made By: C. Cretors & Company, 600 W. Cermak Road, Chicago, IL

“Cretors’ Pop Corn is the most pleasing of any in the world. No other novelty gives such a degree of enjoyment and satisfaction for the money. Relished by all, young or old—rich and poor alike, during all seasons of the year—it wins instant success everywhere,

The Cracker Jack Co., est. 1871

Museum Artifact: Cracker Jack Cocoanut Corn Crisp Tin, c. 1930

Made By: The Cracker Jack Company, 4800 W. 66th Street, Chicago, IL

“You can eat as much as you like!” That’s how the Cracker Jack Company marketed its new Cocoanut Corn Crisp to America in 1928, assuring all snackers that these “luscious lumps of goodness” were “healthful, pure, and wholesome.” Not being a doctor or nutritionist,

Bunte Brothers, est. 1876

Museum Artifacts: Bunte “Fine Confections, “Diana,” “Stuft” and “World Famous Candies” Tins by Bunte Brothers, 1910s-1930s

Made By: Bunte Brothers Candy, 3301 W. Franklin Blvd., Chicago, IL

Which industry best exemplified the spirit of Chicago at its manufacturing zenith? The steel mills? The Union Stock Yards? The railroads? Architecture?

Nope. It was definitely candy—sweet, delectable, teeth-rotting candy.

For the thousands of Chicago factory workers employed in the confectionery trade,

Oh Henry! and the Williamson Candy Co., est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Oh Henry! Candy Bar Box, c. 1950s

Made By: Williamson Candy Company, 4701 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL

Introduced by the Williamson Candy Co. in 1920, the Oh Henry! was the first of Chicago’s holy trinity of chocolate/peanut/caramel candy bars, pre-dating the Baby Ruth (Curtiss Candy Co.) by a year* and Snickers (Mars, Inc.) by a decade.

Mars Inc., est. 1911

Museum Artifact: Snickers Candy Bar Display Box, 1958

Made By: Mars Incorporated, 2019 N. Oak Park Ave, Chicago, IL

Chocolate, though universally appealing, is not a universal language. In the United Kingdom, for example—as many confused Americans learn every day—the “Mars Bar” is basically their version of a Milky Way, while their Milky Way tastes more like a 3 Musketeers (a brand that doesn’t exist overseas).

Albert Dickinson Co., est. 1888

Museum Artifact: Little Buster Hulless Popcorn, c. 1920s

Made by: Albert Dickinson Company, 2750 W. 35th Street, Chicago, IL

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.

Curtiss Candy Co., est. 1916

Museum Artifact: Baby Ruth Display Box, c. 1950s

Made By: Curtiss Candy Company, 337 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL

“There was never a crack in the integrity of Otto Schnering.”

In 1953—right around the same time the vintage Baby Ruth display box in our collection was made—radio host and author Henry J. Taylor went on the air and delivered a stirring speech / eulogy for the man they used to call the “Candy Bar King.” Taylor was a former business associate and longtime friend of Otto Schnering,

E.J. Brach & Sons, est. 1904

Museum Artifact: Brach’s “Chocolates of Quality” Box, c. 1920s

Made By: E.J. Brach & Sons, 4656 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.

 

Archived Reader Comments:

“Hi my name is Stella Klich (maiden name Pierri ) once worked at Brach Candies , I started back in Aug of 1970 till April of 1995.

Flavour Candy Company, est. 1925

Museum Artifact: The Original Flavour Chicken Bones (Tin), 1927

Made By: Flavour Candy Co., 3922 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.

Peerless Confection Co., est. 1914

Museum Artifact: Peerless Maid Peermints Tin, c. 1930s

Made By: Peerless Confection Company, 1250 W Schubert Avenue, Chicago, IL

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, est. 1891

Museum Artifact: Wrigley Spearmint Gum Pack, 1932

Made By: William Wrigley Jr. Company, 3535 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

The most remarkable thing about this nearly 90 year-old pack of chewing gum cannot be gleaned from any photograph—it’s the scent! And no, it’s not the musty smell of old packaging. It’s the shockingly vibrant fragrance of the mint in these unopened sticks of Depression era Wrigley Spearmint,