On some days, particularly wet ones, walking around River North smells just like something. That's thanks to the fully functioning chocolate factory at 600 N. Kinzie. In a downtown full of Cheesecake Factories, Blommer Chocolate in one of the last manufacturing operations still around. It's been pumping out the sweet stuff since 1940, making its first delivery of liquid chocolate a year after the sons of a Wisconsin ice cream maker opened the factory. And it's come a long way: together, the company processes more cocoa beans at its four factories than any other in North America. In 2008, the company reports, it ground 50 percent of U.S. cocoa imports.
So why haven't you tasted Blommer chocolate? The company primarily produces coatings—so think chocolate-covered strawberries, almonds dipped in yogurt, etc. It also makes liquid and powdered chocolate that it sells to bakeries, candy-makers, and anyone who needs chocolate but can't make their own. For the next few months, however, the company is operating a pop-up shop next to Brown Elephant (5406 N. Clark), and you can always visit the factory to pick up some chocolate, which my sources say is delicious.
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