It all depends on whether the factory is whipping up a batch of their trademark Lemonheads or Atomic fireballs, but the air in Forest Park near the Eisenhower freeway is always filled with the sweet waft of cinnamon, lemon, bubble gum or some kind of candy perfume.
Ferrara Pan is Chicagoland's very own Wonka factory, and around back there is a small factory store where you can score all of your childhood favorites including Boston Baked Beans, Black Forest Gummy Bears and Jawbuster jawbreakers. Discerning candy collectors can scoop up slightly more rare Appleheads, Grapeheads, Orange Heads and Cherryheads, and folks looking for a deal can score most of the standard candies in bulk for about $1.20 a pound (almost three times less than what you'd pay for the packaged version). Not to mention, hipsters looking to score ironic gear will also have plenty of logo hats and t-shirts from which to choose.
Despite the paintings on the wall depicting elves ferreting sweet treats around a factory, the candy is actually made from a panning process that involves tossing single grains of sugar into revolving pans while adding flavor, color and other candy ingredients until the pieces reach an optimal size. Hence the term "Pan" in the company name.
As for Ferrara, the story goes as such: In 1908 Salvatore Ferrara, an Italian immigrant, opened a retail pastry and confection shop. He was so successful that by 1919 he entered into a partnership with his brothers-in-law, Salvatore Buffardi and Anello Pagano, to produce a line of confections. Their original manufacturing facility located at 2200 West Taylor Street now stands as the Ferrara Bakery.
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant