H. Teller Archibald opened the first Fannie May in 1920, in the heart of the Loop, on LaSalle Street. The same year as Vito & Nick's on the Southwest Side, by the way. The brand has been a part of several generations of Chicagoans over the years. As they move into the next century, they're updating their stores. I had a chance to see the latest re-design in the Northwest suburbs.
In the uncertain times between two World Wars, Fannie May provided Chicagoans with a little something to sweeten their lives.
"We started in 1920 in Chicago on 11 N. LaSalle Street. Started out with production there as well as a small candy shop," said General Manager Rick Fossali.
"When we first started, it was a lot of buttercreams and other chocolate confections. We started the Pixie in 1946, and the Pixie is pecans, small batches of caramel, enrobed in our Fannie May milk chocolate. We have dark, milk and right now for the season we have pumpkin pie spice Pixies," he said.
Production has since moved to Ohio, but the company maintains its headquarters here. And as part of their anniversary, they're renovating stores, like this one in downtown Park Ridge. A complete re-design means better layout, but also a few new options, besides truffles.
"We've got the new case, we've got a seating area in back, which is new for us. Coffee, the ice cream and the hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is awesome, you should have some," he said.
Mint Meltaways are still here, albeit in new packaging, as are the Chicago-specific candy bars. Plus, a couple of new items.
"The double dark chocolate sea salt Pixie, and then recently we introduced the S'mores Snack Mix," said Fossali.
Most of the changes, to be honest, are cosmetic, since messing with the original recipes would likely be catastrophic. Why mess with success?
"We've been meaning a lot to a lot of generations here in Chicago," he said.
The other new store is in LaGrange, and pretty soon, the location in the Premium Outlet Mall in Aurora gets a facelift. But the Pixies are still the same, and the addition of hot chocolate couldn't have come at a better time.