Our Fave “Things Made in Chicago”

Chicago does a lot of selling things bought or processed, and buying things sold or processed, and processing things sold, bought, or processed, and this week we asked ourselves what our favorite of those things were. The answer seems to be (mostly) sweet…

Alana says:

Ferrara Pan is the Chicago candy company most likely to be like Wonka Land inside. The rattles of a box of Lemonheads evoke a strong third grade memory of fishing around in the tall brush just off right field, searching for a missed softball with the park’s snack shack only feet away. My mom used to can pears out of her orchard with Red Hots, and my brothers and I had contests to see who could keep an Atomic Fireball in our mouth the longest. I’d hazard a guess that everyone in America was raised with these Chicago confections.

Dozens of pleading phone calls to the factory have been met with a, “We’re sorry, we don’t allow tours.” C’mon FP! I know there are Oompa Loopas in there. Just let me see! I won’t tell a soul.

(Kosher-keepers should take note; nearly all of the line is “Pareve”.)

Officer Gleason says:

Turano Bread

Granted, it’s not baked in the city proper anymore, but this bakery is my favorite bread ever.

Lauren says:

Is there anything more awesome than Tootsie Pops? I remember being in grade school and playing Jeopardy and other memory / pre-test games for Tootsie Pops, and being really excited when you got a wrapper with a star on it. That was supposed to mean something really important, but I don’t really know what.

Tankboy says:

Twinkies. Need I say more?

I thought not.

Okay, sure there’s lots of other stuff that’s technically better, but will anything else besides the Twinkie be around post-apocalypse?

I thought not.

Rob Ray says:

My “Favorite Product made in Chicago” has to be the “pinball machine.”

Chicago is the undisputable home to the pinball machine. The precursur to the pinball machine was the “Ballyhoo” machine manufactured by Raymond Maloney (who later formed the infamous Bally Manufacturing Company of Chicago) in 1931. Bally integrated Williams Manufacturing’s “anti-tilt” mechanism in the late 1930s and Williams Manufacturing went on to produce 158 pinball games of their own.

Pinball proved to be fat city for Bally, Williams, and other manufacturers even in the face of bans on pinball machines throughout the ’40s. Williams acquired Bally in 1988 and then got out of the pinball game entirely in 1999 as video game consoles put the squeeze on the arcade industry.

There is, though, one last standing pinball machine manufacturer. Where are they located? Yep! Chicagoland! Stern Pinball of Melrose Park is cranking out some kickass pinball machines like the Simpsons Pinball Party (my personal favorite) and pretty cool Lord of the Rings and Soprano’s machines.

Nikkos says:

Vienna Beef. Need I say more?

Fuzzy says:

I love popcorn in all its forms, so it’s a toss-up for me between Cracker Jack (invented in 1893 & 1896 by the Rueckheim Brothers) (“a prize in every box!”) and the Chicago Mix (half carmel popcorn, half cheese popcorn) from Garrett’s. Maybe I’d better have another helping of each just to make sure…

Ferrara Pan
7301 W Harrison Street
Forest Park, IL 60130

Garrett Popcorn Shop
670 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

Stern Pinball
2020 Janice Ave
Melrose Park, IL 60160

Tootsie Roll Industries
7401 S Cicero
Chicago, IL 60629

Turano Bread
6501 West Roosevelt Rd
Berwyn, IL 60402

Vienna Beef
2501 North Damen
Chicago, IL 60647

5 Comments so far

  1. Lauren (unregistered) on June 16th, 2005 @ 11:39 am

    Man, I am a bad niece.

    My mom’s cousins actually own Ferrara Pan and Ferrara Bakery… that is my aunt Nella on the homepage. The Ferrara Bakery makes the most astonishly amazing cannoli cakes. Nella made one for my cousin Michael’s birthday 2 years ago, and I almost died. If you need a giant cake for any reason (birthday, wedding, you’re hungry, whatever), I highly highly recommend them.

  2. alana Waters (unregistered) on June 16th, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

    Lauren, thanks for the tip!! I may need to get one just ’cause.

    Rob, Simpsons Pinball Party — there’s one at The Skylark. Just fyi.

    Tankboy, I heard a rumor that there is no cooking involved in the production of a Twinkie. If it’s true, that’s truly disturbing.

  3. Erin (unregistered) on June 16th, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

    West chicago is home to Flavor ice…. Yummmmeeeee.

    I was also waiting for Intelligentsia coffee… You Bucktowners smell the roasting daily right? Kinda smells like baking bread.

  4. Rob D (unregistered) on June 16th, 2005 @ 7:08 pm

    Intelligensia’s true home is San Francisco, but it is roasted here now. I am amazed that nobody mentioned sharpie markers!

  5. jessica (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2005 @ 3:21 pm

    have a trivia question….

    What year was the first pinball game produced in Chicago?

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