|Greg Guidotti at Ferrara headquarters in the Old Post Office.|
For all the decades I’ve been driving through the Old Post Office, particularly during the five years I lived in Oak Park, I’d never actually been inside the sprawling deco complex, not beyond a quick 30-second dash into the lobby to mail my taxes.
That changed Friday, and I found myself sitting in the sixth floor funhouse splendor of the Ferrara Candy Company headquarters. That itself is an amazing development. There is no way I could ever get inside, say, Wrigley headquarters. Not through any imaginable process that didn’t involve me swimming ashore at Goose Island, shedding my wetsuit, scaling a wall, knocking out a guard, then shimmying through the ventilation system.
But Ferrara invited me. And as soon as I settled in a conference room, I could see why. They’ve invented a new type of candy.
“The hot product right now is Nerds Gummy Clusters,” said Greg Guidotti, chief marketing officer at Ferrara, standing before a conference table piled with bags of candy. “You can open it. Give it a look, and try it.”
He didn’t have to ask twice. I tore open a small bag, suppressed my first thought — “They kinda look like candy coronavirus spheres” — as indecorous, and popped one in my mouth.
“Essentially it’s classic Nerds wrapped around a gummy deposit,” said Guidotti.
I wish I could buy bags of Guidotti’s enthusiasm — a seasoned marketing pro, who spent time at Kraft and sold Duracell in Asia — to munch throughout the day. Or better yet, send packages to the PR sorts that I generally have to try to wheedle information from, who narrow their gaze and worry, in a chill voice that sounds like it’s coming from the woman in “American Gothic” — “You want more information about our product? Why would you want that?” It’s such an unexpected joy, to meet somebody who is actually good at what he does.
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"There is no way I could ever get inside, say, Wrigley headquarters. Not through any imaginable process that didn’t involve me swimming ashore at Goose Island, shedding my wetsuit, scaling a wall, knocking out a guard, then shimmying through the ventilation system." That's it, that's what I come here for (every goddam day).ReplyDelete
Also: some of my favorite subjects, Old Post Office, Wrigley & Ferrara Pan. A la NS. I live near the Ferrara Pan factory. There's a candy store there & its like what we know about the Blommer Scent: you can often smell the flavors. Its one of those "not horrible" things that take on more value as things go.ReplyDelete
I also live fairly close to the Ferrara Pan factory just South of the Eisehower and a bit West of Harlem, but during the many dozens of times I've walked by the place, I've never smelled a thing, perhaps a result of my years of French inhaling Lucky Strikes. But before those unhalcyon days, when I attended Mt. Carmel College in Niagara Falls, the scent (barley?) of the Gerber baby food factory was quite apparent to my yet-to-be flawed sniffer. And a few years later, while living in Milwaukee, I was daily inundated with the same unmistakable scent, this time from Miller Brewery. Cradle to grave, one might say, nestled in the cozy smell of barley, which I wouldn't recognize if you stuck it up my nose as a Covid test.Delete
I've rarely smelled the Blommer factory, though I'm not down by there very often, and I was disappointed when I drove by the Mars factory, even driving into the parking lot trying to catch a whiff and failing to smell anything. But, a la Tate, I could always tell when there was a big brewery nearby, which was a delight!Delete
I remember when Ferrara Pan used to be in Forest Park.ReplyDelete
I’m pretty sure they still have a plant there.Delete
Your enthusiasm for these candies, while enjoyable enough to read about, is about as foreign to me as your interest in puppets. I would concede that I'm just an old fogy, but I looked at Wikipedia to discover that Gummy bears were invented in 1922. So, it's not like they weren't around when I cared about candy more -- which was never very much, frankly. Gummy creations of any kind -- nope. Nerds -- nope. A rare Snickers or random chocolates are about it for me. The question is why I'm bothering to mention it.ReplyDelete
That being said, I certainly agree with Mr. Tindall's first comment, and a visit to the Old Post Office is well worth a report.
"This has doubled the size of the Nerd business." A fine quote, though I had assumed that had happened when you launched EGD! ; )
Congrats to our host on his National Headliner Awards first place honor for local interest column!ReplyDelete
Congratulations, indeed! As the judges wrote: "Steinberg is a lovely writer whose columns have a strong voice andDelete
unique point of view, from reminding us of another time when disinformation put us all in danger,
to an obituary that made us laugh. RIP, Gizmo."
Thanks. Though I take this as a sign of how thinned out the profession has become. There just aren't any other columnists left...Delete