Why does Chicago smell like dessert?
Late one night last year, as I walked home from the State and Lake train station, I encountered a mystery that I have only recently solved.
As I made my way across Michigan Avenue, I smelled the alluring scent of chocolate brownies. I remember thinking, “Some nearby bakery is getting an oddly early start on the day.” But as I continued my walk up the hill to Columbus Avenue, then back down into Lake Shore East Park, the sweet scent (seemingly impossibly) lingered.
Even the irresistible scent of Garrett Popcorn’s Chicago Mix only emanates a block or so from the store. How had this chocolate fragrance followed me for a half mile? Had I accidentally dipped my sleeve into a chocolate fountain?
No. I checked. Unsure of what had transpired, I was at least happy that for one shining moment, Chicago smelled like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
A short time later, the delicious perfume struck me again as I strolled down the Riverwalk. I smiled with glee as I walked, the scent following me all the way to Merchandise Mart – in fact, growing perceptively stronger along the way.
Chicago had become Choco-Land; not some bleak big city with open sewers and pollution, but a wondrous fairyland of desserts and decadent calories.
My childhood was spent in residences near paper mills and horse farms – never have I lived in proximity to such a pleasing bouquet of smells. But what was the source?
A little Internet sleuthing gave me the answer. The incredible aromatic perk bestowed upon our neighborhood emanates from Blommer Chocolate Company, located just northwest of the Loop.
When the chocolate is being made, and the winds blow in from the west, our world becomes a heavenly place to dwell.
— Matthew Reiss | Community Contributor