It’s National Chocolate Month, and we felt compelled to share a hodgepodge of everything Chicago and chocolate that we love from favorite places to fun facts and must try food and drink.
That West Loop Chocolate Smell
When we think of chocolate and the city of Chicago this is 100% the first thing that comes to our minds— not eating chocolate, but smelling it. If you’ve ever been to the west loop you’ve probably experienced the almost magical smell of chocolate in the air. That smell emanates from Blommer Chocolate Co. At one point the government tried to crackdown on the smell, but today it’s still highly potent…and we’re kind of glad about that.
Some chocolate smell listening/reading
- A 2006 This American Life segment on the attempt to reduce the smell.
- A story from late last year on one individual who started tracking the smell daily.
Chocolatey Stops on Our Tours
There’s some chocolate in Chicago that we just can’t pass on, which is why we worked these places into our various tours. Below we break down the three big ones that satisfy our chocolate cravings.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
With a name like Hot Chocolate, you can imagine there’s plenty of chocolate to be found here. Mindy Segal crafts amazing desserts and flavor combinations of all kinds, and we recommend desserts and entrees alike. You can always count on amazing hot chocolate of all kinds (9 on the menu!) with house made marshmallows. Plus below are some of the chocolate based desserts currently on the 2015 winter dinner menu:
- Caramelized White Chocolate Pudding
- Warm Brownie “Sundae”
- “Glutenous” Chocolate Mousse
- There’s a Kriek In The Forest (Lunch menu only)
The Fudge Pot
The Fudge Pot is pretty much the holy grail of chocolate in the old town neighborhood, and it has a history we love to share. The family owned candy shop has been operating in the same location since 1963. The current owner David Dattalo, is a 3rd generation candy maker. He followed in the footsteps of his father Jim who learned the art from his uncle who had been an employee at The Mars Candy Company. When Jim originally opened the shop it was named for the only thing they were making at the time—fudge.
Today they make a variety of candies and chocolate molds right there in the shop, along with their famous butter toffee, which we taste on our tour. Currently David is teaching his children the craft of candy making stretching out this tradition to a 4th generation. Pro tip: If you want a chocolate mold of anything (and we mean anything), this is the place to go!
We’ve definitely mentioned this stop before for the amazing truffles, but even better is the interesting chocolate flavor combinations including bacon and chocolate. Our recommendation for national chocolate month though is to snag one of their gift sets for yourself and go to town. The many different “libraries” of chocolate bars will give you a chance to try all types of flavors.
Chicago Chocolate History Fun Facts
Chicago has a rich history with candy, and chocolate candies are no exception. Below are some fun history facts about this cities’ relationship with chocolate.
We kind of inspired Milton Hersey.
While Milton Hersey was making caramels and candy far before Chicago, but it was on his visit to the Chicago International Exposition in 1893 where it all kind of started. While there he saw and purchased German chocolate-making machinery before starting the Hersey Chocolate Company one year later in 1894.
Chicago is responsible for some classic chocolate cars.
- Chicago-based Curtiss Candy Company created the BabyRuth in 1921 and the Butterfinger in 1923.
- Jim Dattalo, the original owner of The Fudge Pot in Old Town, helped in developing the 3 Musketeers bar at the Mars candy company in 1932.
We will definitely be eating a ton of chocolate this month…and well, let’s be honest most months. How will you be celebrating National Chocolate Month? Let us know how you get your chocolate fix in the city in the comments or tweet us at @ChiFoodPlanet.