Calling The Windy City "The Candy City" is not a typographical error. Nor is it a real nickname -- but this town of big shoulders and big sirloins has long had an affection for sugary treats (hometown inventions include Baby Ruth candy bars). Here's a sampling of some of the better places to satisfy that sweet desire.
Set in a storefront in a neighborhood that still has remnants of its immigrant-Italian past, this shop sells 15 varieties of its resident candy, some with especially creative names (e.g., Mazel Toffee). Try: Lavenilla (French lavender, Madagascar vanilla, covered in white chocolate).
Choose from 19 varieties of gummy bear (including, of course, Cubbie Gummies) at this shop within walking distance of Wrigley Field, or splurge on a Snickers Cluster. Also here: Truffles named and flavored for Chicago celebrities. Try: Oprah truffle (champagne).
Little has changed since its founding in 1921. Margie's -- on a non-trendy corner of the trendy Bucktown neighborhood -- is nearly as famous for its indulgent sundaes as it is for its traditional chocolate treats made on site. Try: Turtle (caramel, pecans, chocolate).
The rapidly expanding maker of luxury confections (2 other Chicago locations, plus NYC, Las Vegas and more to come) got its start 13 years ago not far from this boutique near DePaul University. Combining chocolate with hickory smoked bacon was an early act of genius. Try: Black pearl truffle (chocolate with ginger, wasabi and black sesame seed).
The 2 corporate giants do battle logo-a-logo at the base of the Old Water Tower on the Magnificent Mile., with its Belgian imports, is around the corner. No real surprises here -- aside from the waffles at Leonidas -- but the 3 shops are listed because, well, they're chocolate.
A Hong Kong-based chain with a presence in many US cities, this outlet in Chicago's Chinatown features sweets from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan not found at Hershey's, Ghirardelli or Leonidas. Many -- like salted kumquat and Buddha's hand fruit -- are dried morsels sold in bulk; others are wrapped. Try: Durian milk candy.
Displaying enough candies to fill every pinata in town (many of those for sale here, too), this local importer of Mexican confections is a treat for the eyes and a challenge to the adventurous (candy con chilies anyone?). This store (one of 7 in and around Chicago) has the advantage of being in the South Side's Little Village neighborhood, perhaps Chicago's most colorful and flavorful barrio. Try: Paleton de cajeta quemada (goat milk lollipops).
It's the factory store for 60-year-old Arway Confections on Chicago's Northwest Side. You'll find baggies of dark chocolate-covered almonds, cashews, cherries, hazel nuts, macadamias, raisins, peanuts, pecans and anything else that's unloaded on the dock -- along with sponge candy and other goodies. Try: Peanut butter pretzel nuggets.
North America's largest chocolate maker, they've been doing it at this River North old-timer (and filling the neighborhood's air with heavenly aroma) since 1939. They sell bags of chocolate in every known shape, including some animals, but don't expect fancy stuff -- just quality. Try: Revere dark chocolate bar.
Here, south of the Loop, the chocolates are so exquisite, eating them seems shameful. The Cappuccino Cup (dark and light chocolate plus butter cream and chocolate shavings) is almost ridiculous -- until you contemplate the even more outlandish, gold-dipped morsel called Date with King Tut. Time it right and you may be able to watch the process. (There's a window into the kitchen.) Try: Ganache au trois.
An unashamedly old-fashioned candy, popcorn and ice cream shop, it's been coexisting comfortably with Chicago's Rush Street beef and booze district since 1987. (It moved to this location, not far from its original on State Street, about 5 years ago.) The chocolates are created here, sometimes before your very eyes. Try: S’mores (plain, caramel or peanut butter).