Chicago Greeks’ Sweet Legacy
Over the years, Chicago—and other parts of the US—has been home to many notable candy makers. While many Greek immigrants found work in diners feeding their communities, others went the sweet route. From candy stores to full-fledged bakeries, Greeks made their name in the candy business. You can bet your sweet tooth on it! Surely, you’ve heard of Dove Chocolates (creators of the Dove Bar) and Cupid Candies. But Greeks all over Chicagoland opened candy stores and bakeries.
Did you know that The Delta, Chicago’s original Greektown, was home to more than 6 pastry and candy shops?
Yes, Chicago Greeks have a sweet history, satisfying sweet tooths for more than 100 years! And with all the other Chicagoans in the candy business, it’s no surprise that the National Confectioners Association was born here in Chicago.
FUN FACT: For a time, the NCA managing director and association president was Themi Vasils, a retired Chicago Greek journalist and author who was among the founding mothers/fathers of the National Hellenic Museum, for which she served as a trustee for more than 20 years, including a term as president of their board of directors.
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Books on Chicago Greeks in the Sweet Biz
Chicago Greeks’ sweet legacy is chronicled in several books. These books will activate your sweet tooth for sure. Check them out!
University of Illinois Press, 2020
The story of how Greeks became candy makers. Includes history of Gus Flesor, the author’s grandfather, an early candymaker/entrepreneur.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Greek Immigrant in Chicago, Illinois: 1900-1930 by Alexander Rassogianis
Chronicles the entrepreneurial activities of early Greek immigrants in Chicago, including candy and pastry shop owners.
Arcadia Publishing, 2012
Examines Chicago candy history, including some Chicago Greeks, as it became home to some of the biggest names in the business.
G. Bradley Publishing, 2005
Shares stories, customs, and recipes of Chicago Greeks and Greektown, from its original location on the site of the University of Illinois at Chicago, to the Greek community today.
FUN FACT: I’m so proud to have been part of that project. It was my first book contribution. They called me the food editor. 😉
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Craving something sweet?
Reading Chicago Greeks’ sweet history will surely be satisfying. And then, of course, you must treat yourself to a sweet treat!