Secrets of The Candy Factory

This is the Harlem avenue CTA train platform in Oak Park, bordering the central West side of Chicago. A 1/4 mile away from this spot is the house I was raised in for 18 years. And here you see the Ferrara Pan Candy Factory, origination point of the World's entire supply of Lemonheads, Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans and Atomic Fireballs.

On some nights, particularly in the Summer, the smell of red hots would hang in the air of our backyards like heavy fog. My friends and I would always wonder what the inside of the factory might look like. They didn't give tours, so the closest we ever got was the factory outlet store, which was no more than a window with an ornery old hag on the other side of it, begrudgingly scooping candy into brown paper bags to sell by weight (it's still open).

But now, thanks to the interweb, the secrets are out. Ferrara Pan's website has flash animations of how their most popular items are made. Click on the candy of your choice, and all will be revealed:

Amazing bonus fact: Ferrara Pan still uses trains to get their sugar delivered, and they go through a rail car full of it every day.

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