Chicago has always been considered the candy capital of the world, says Amy Hansen, owner of Amy’s Candy Bar in the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood neighborhood.
After all, she said, it had been home to some of the biggest candy companies: Wrigley, Mars, Brachs, to name a few. It also hosts the Sweets and Snacks Expo every spring – so it’s no surprise that it’s home to dozens of local candy shops.
“People are attracted to Chicago because there’s a really large culinary presence and there’s a large appreciation for hand-crafted items,” Hansen says.
For that reason, the candy shops in Chicago don’t just sell everyday candy and call it a day. Their customers expect high-end candy, nostalgic candy and unusual candy. And Chicago delivers.
“We have people who appreciate high quality candy and chocolate, verses some of those resort town that pump out whatever they can,” says John Manchester, owner of Windy City Sweets in Lakeview. “Chicago has always maintained a high quality of candy.”
Amy’s Candy Bar If you’re craving handmade caramels, this is the place to go. They make them in-house, and have an assortment on hand at anytime. They’ve always got sea salt, raspberry and passion fruit – in addition to seasonal flavors, which include Mexican hot chocolate at the moment. Caramels aren’t all they carry, however. Owner Amy Hansen imports candy from all over the world, in addition to nostalgic treats.
4704 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, 773-942-6386, www.Amyscandybar.com
Margie’s Candies This is an old-fashioned, neighborhood candy and homemade ice cream shop. They’ve got monster banana splits and handmade candy -- all super affordable. The ice cream is much more popular than the candy, as evidenced by the long lines in the summer, but if you stop in for their massive sundaes, you really should grab some candy to go as well. Their caramel apples are fresh and gooey and their chocolates are gourmet and make a great gift.
1960 N. Western Ave., Chicago, 773-384-1035; 1813 Montrose Ave., Chicago, 773-348-0400; www.Margiesfinecandies.com
Aji Ichiban You might not know what any of the candy actually is in this Chinatown candy store – but you can fill up your bag with a mix of gummies, hard candy, gum, rice candy, wasabi candy and jellies – and then go home and have a sugar fest. They have Chinese candy staples, such as White Rabbits, odd American candy such as green tea Kit Kats and then they’ve also got every other Chinese candy that appears to have ever existed. Some are priced per pound and some are by the piece.
2117 S. China Pl., Chicago, 312-328-9998
Windy City Sweets The homemade S’mores, which are offered year-round here, are the specialty. They dip their graham crackers and marshmallows in chocolate – and it manages to taste even better than if it were served fireside. It’s hard to simply stop in for a S’more, however. Windy City Sweets has about 1,200 different items. They’ve got a pick-a-mix wall with about 150 to 180 types of candy, fudge that’s made on site and a huge selection of the good ole stuff: Pop Rocks, Big League Chew, Bubble Gum Cigarettes, ect. Since they’ve been around for 31 years, many of the customers remember coming in as children, and continue to come as adults with families now – but they also have a big Internet presence. While they’ve got a ton of people who come in off the street because they’re craving their favorite piece of candy, this place also does steady business for people planning their candy buffet for their weddings, birthday parties and corporate events. They also pour a whopping 3,000 to 4,000 chocolate Easter rabbits.
3308 N. Broadway St., Chicago, 773-477-6100, www.Windycitysweets.com
Mr. Kite’s Chocolate This tiny chocolate shop sells everything from incredibly high-quality S’mores to chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered marshmallows, candy apples, toffee, cupcakes and ice-cream, and frozen yogurt with flavor add-ins (try the German Chocolate cake add-in). It’s a great little place to grab a piece of chocolate for yourself as a special treat, or to get a box for a hostess gift.
6 W. Maple St., Chicago, 312-664-7270
Affy Tapple If you’re craving candy apples, this is the place to go. From peanut apples to the gourmet apples (double chocolate crunch, chocolate candy pieces and seasonal flavors) – they’ve got everything you can think of putting onto an apple. These are the same apples that are sold at the supermarket – but you can choose your flavor and get them fresh at the factory here. They also do chocolate covered or caramel coated pretzel rods for much less than you’d find in the department stores.
6300 W. Gross Point Rd., Niles, IL, 847-588-2900, Affytapple.com
Vosges Haut-Chocolat They are truly creative when it comes to their chocolates, throwing everything from bacon to mushrooms to wasabi into their chocolate bars. And yes, it tastes great. They usually have samples of the chocolate so you can be convinced before purchasing, and they’ve got traditional flavors of milk and dark and peppermint too. But their unique chocolates set this chocolatier apart from the rest. While their chocolate is sold in many stores throughout Chicago and nationwide, it’s made in Lincoln Park.
520 N Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-644-9450; 951 W. Armitage, Chicago, 773-296-9866, Vosgeschocolate.com
Dulceria Lupitas Spicy candy is boss here, so this isn’t your average candy spot. Being in the heart of Pilsen, they cater to the Mexican crowd, and they’ve got all the beloved spicy yet sweet Mexican treats and a great selection of piñatas to house those candies for an awesome party. They also have a small selection of American throwbacks, such a Lemonheads and Now and Later candies, in addition to some fun kitsch candy, such as a fortune-telling lollipop.
1730 W. 18th St., Chicago, 312-226-9260
Blommer Chocolate Company You know the smell of chocolate that reigns throughout the West Loop? It’s coming from this chocolate factory. They do have a small store that’s open to the public, and it sells a good selection of chocolate-covered nuts, raisins, pretzels, ect. Blommer has samples that you can try, but the closest you can get to the factory is via the chocolate – they don’t do factory tours.
600 W. Kinzie St., 312-226-7700, Blommer.com
CORRECTION NOTICE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Affy Tapple as Apple Tapple.