Made in Chicago: Affy Tapple

Friday, October 31, 2014
Made in Chicago: Affy Tapple
Imagine making 10 million caramel apples a year. That's exactly what happens at the Affy Tapple plant in Niles.

NILES, Ill. -- Imagine producing 10 million caramel apples a year! That's exactly what happens at the Affy Tapple plant in Niles.

Most of us who grew up in Chicago know the brand well, but have never been inside the factory.

For over 60 years, Affy Tapple has rolled out a Chicago favorite - the "original" caramel apple!

"It's actually the first commercially made caramel apple, started by Kastrup family the Chicago area," Jenny Cueva, senior marketing manager at Affy Tapple, said.

"They started as a fundraising tradition, selling it to local schools, new owner who bought it 20 years ago expanded on that."

Today, a passion for caramel apples has become a thriving business. Computers now monitor the caramel temperature (it has to be 200-degrees to stick!), but the recipe has stayed the same.

"We'll get two truckloads of apples a day - Empires or Jonathans - from either Michigan or Washington," Cueva said.

After passing a size test, the apples arrive at the first station, where a stick is inserted. Next, they're tucked into metal holders that carry the apples to be coated with their top secret caramel. A few rolls in peanuts, and they are ready to go!

"During peak season, the productions lines run 24/7, producing over 300,000 apples a day," Cueva said. "Everything is made the day it's going to ship, any apple you find in a grocery store either was made yesterday or the same day."

Keeping up the pace and packing those apples may be the hardest part. Imagine- 10 million a year! And most of them are cranked out right before Halloween.

Affy Tapple also makes a larger version of caramel apple that's available at major sporting venues like the Wrigley Field, The Cell and the United Center. There's also a deluxe brand called Mrs. Prindables that is found in high-end stores and catalogs.

All are handmade right here in Chicago.