THREATENED: “The Most Beautiful Candy Factory in America” to be Closed

“Mars Wrigley is closing a nearly century-old chocolate plant on Chicago’s West Side once hailed as the most beautiful candy factory in America.

“Built in a Spanish-style architecture in 1928, the sprawling plant in the Galewood neighborhood bordering Oak Park employs about 280 workers and will be phased out over the next two years, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

“What becomes of the employees and the unique factory — an intriguing part of Chicago’s rich candy history — remains to be seen.

“‘The company remains committed to the city of Chicago and intends to partner with the surrounding community on a future vision for the site,” a spokesperson for Mars Wrigley Confectionery said in an email.

“The U.S. headquarters for privately held Mars Wrigley moved to New Jersey in 2017, following Mars’ $23 billion acquisition of Chicago-based Wrigley in 2008. The Mars Wrigley global headquarters are located on Goose Island in Chicago.

“The plant at 2019 N. Oak Park Ave. produces a variety of ‘filled bar chocolate’ such as 3 Musketeers and Milky Way, the company said. The success of the Milky Way, a malted milk candy bar introduced in 1923, helped build the company and the Chicago factory, with founder Frank Mars moving operations from Minneapolis to Chicago when it opened in 1929.

“Built on 16 acres in a residential area, the plant was named the ‘factory of the month’ in a 1953 Chicago Tribune series, which called it ‘an outstanding bit of architecture … in a beautiful setting of brilliant green bent grass, beds of flowers, shrubs and towering trees.’ The factory included tinted walls, red tile roofs and two-story-high curved-top windows.

“Inside, fine art adorned the walls and Oriental rugs were ‘scattered about,’ reflecting the company’s mission to create a better workplace and beautify the neighborhood, according to the Tribune article.

“The Tribune reported that the candy bar plant was the ‘largest of its kind in the world,’ at least as of 1953.

“The property was formerly part of the original Westward Ho Golf Club, which relocated to Northlake. Mars Wrigley plans to donate the factory site ‘for the use of the community,’ the company said.”

Read the full story at Chicago Tribune

Mars Wrigley closing nearly century-old chocolate plant on Chicago’s West Side, Robert Channik, Chicago Tribune, 1/25/22

Neighbors sour over closing of historic Mars Wrigley factory: ‘It was divine’’; The factory will be phased out over the next two years, the company announced this week. The future of the building remains unclear, as does the fate of its 280 workers, Josephine Stratman, Chicago Sun-Times, 1/27/22

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