Brach's Candy Factory
Brach's Candy Factory Credit: Andrea Bauer

Now dilapidated and covered in graffiti, Brach’s Candy Factory stands broodingly on Chicago’s west side as a reminder of the city’s forgotten candy industry. The once prosperous candy-making monolith—built by German immigrant Emil Brach nearly a century ago—shuttered in 2003 when then-owner Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer, showed the last of the factory’s 3,500 employees the door (Brach’s was later purchased by Farley’s & Sathers in 2007). The palace was a sweet tooth’s promised land, manufacturing thousands of pounds of gum, nougat, malt balls, and coconut candies a day. It flourished throughout the early and mid 1900s but began stumbling in the late 80s and 90s due to growing competition, changing management, rising prices of domestic sugar, and high operating costs. A reconstruction of Brach’s in the early aughts resulted in the building of a new plant in Mexico. That’s not to say the Chicago factory is completely defunct—a portion of the Brach’s ruins play the role of Gotham General Hospital in 2008’s The Dark Knight.