When we kids asked our mother which of us were her favorite child, she didn't tell the truth — me, obviously, I knew in my heart.Rather she would lie, spreading her hand wide, wiggling her fingers and asking which finger she loved most. They must teach that ruse in Mom School, though it doesn't make sense: Who wouldn't prefer their index finger over their pinkie?
But we bought it; we were kids.
The government pretends to take that same impartial attitude when it comes to American industries. All are valued; how could it be otherwise?
But it is otherwise. Like the barnyard critters in "Animal Farm," all are equal, but some are more equal than others. To see the result of this favoritism all you have to do is go to 4656 W. Kinzie St. and survey the weedy expanse east of Cicero Avenue.
The largest candy factory in the world used to be there. For almost a hundred years, the E.J. Brach plant had thousands of employees — over 4,000 at its peak — turning out millions of pounds of Chocolate Stars and Jelly Nougats, Candy Corn and Conversation Hearts, and my favorite, Sundaes Neapolitan Coconut, those sticky rectangles of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
All gone, a shadow on a map — the ghost plant sketched by a few streets that mysteriously vanish, such as Kenton north of Kinzie. The Brach factory closed down in 2003, thanks largely to congressional efforts to prop up the sugar industry, which is big in places like Minnesota (sugar beets) and Florida (sugar cane) but not so big in Illinois. Sugar in the United States costs two to four times as much as in the rest of the world, thanks to the U.S. government.
So Brach is gone. (You can see part of the factory being blown up as Gotham Hospital in "The Dark Knight.") Wrigley exiled chewing gum production to Mexico and China in 2005.
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