Garrett Popcorn, as synonymous to Chicago as, well Frango Mints, has decided to put these two iconic Windy City confectionery brands under one umbrella — its own. On Monday, Chicago- and Hong Kong-based Garrett Brands acquired the Frango brand from Macy’s Inc.
As the new owner, Garrett Brands will develop, create, sell and distribute Frango products “consistent with the brand’s legacy as a superior chocolate and confectionery brand,” the company announced.
“While specifics related to operations still need to be evaluated, the plan is to build upon the Frango brand legacy while creating jobs in Seattle, Chicago and across the U.S.,” says Michelle Molise, a spokesperson for Garrett Brands.
Macy’s, Inc. will continue to sell Frango products in the Frango Café at Macy’s State Street store in Chicago, at more than 350 additional Macy’s store locations in the United States and online at macys.com.
“Frango is a perfect fit for our company’s portfolio, aligning well with our strategy to preserve and grow iconic brands that have historic franchise value with a unique and storied past,” says Lance Chody, owner and ceo of Garrett Brands. “This is an exciting opportunity to expand the reach and offerings of the delicious Frango confections consumers know and love to more people in more places, just as we have done with our other brands. Although many synergies between the brands exist, Frango and Garrett Popcorn Shops will be independently operated in every respect, therefore preserving each brand’s unique qualities and consumer sentiment.”
There are more than 50 Garrett Popcorn Shops in the United States and across the globe. It opened its first retail store in Chicago in 1949. Chody and his family purchased the company in 2005.
Garrett Brands Lead Chef and Chocolatier David Funaro asserts that “Garrett Brands will still offer Frango’s core flavors, including the iconic Milk and Dark Mint Chocolates. We also plan to evaluate today’s current Frango offerings and determine the extended portfolio that represents the Frango brand, including unique chocolates, truffles, confectionery and other brand-centric related products.”
Maneesha Khandelwal, senior vice president of Garrett Brands, adds, “We are committed to preserving Frango’s highest standards of taste and quality, and its heritage in Chicago and Seattle as key pillars of building on the brand’s identity.”
Tim Baxter, chief merchandising officer at Macy’s, Inc., affirms that the department store chain found the right buyer for the Frango brand.
“We are happy to have found such a natural partner in Garrett Brands and are confident they will be great stewards of the Frango brand,” he says “We will continue to offer Macy’s customers the Frango products they love online and at Macy’s stores in Chicago, Seattle and across the country. And, given Garrett Brands’ history of thoughtfully growing brands, we are confident that this partnership will introduce new customers to premium Frango chocolates.”
Famed meltaway’s history
The Frango Mint’s legacy dates back to 1918, when — according to Wikipedia — a trademark document was recorded by the U.S. Patent Office. Originally dished out as a frozen dessert at the Frederick & Nelson department store’s Tea Room in Seattle, the then-called Franco evolved into a mint meltaway. It was Ray Alden, who ran Frederick's in-store candy kitchen, who developed the Frango mint meltaway chocolate in 1927, reports Wikipedia. Alden's secret recipe used chocolate made from both African and South American cocoa beans as well as triple-distilled oil of Oregon peppermint and 40% local butter, the web source says.
Reportedly, in the 1930s, after Frederick & Nelson's was acquired by Marshall Field's, the name was changed to Frango — an abbreviation of Frederick’s and tango — to avoid any similarities to Generalisimo Franco, the infamous Spanish dictator.
Upon bringing the confection back to Chicago, Marshall Field quickly found a ready clientele. The high-end department store made gifting a box of Frango Mints a tradition for locals and tourists alike when visiting the State Street store. All Frango Mints were produced on the department store’s 13th floor from 1929 to 1999, after which it was outsourced to Gertrude Hawk Chocolates in Dunmore, Pa. The company continues to manufacture the mints today.
Macy’s, Inc., the Cincinnati-based department store chain that has been consolidating assets recently, will shut down 68 of its more than 700 department stores during this year. It expects to shutter 30-plus more stores as part of its cost-cutting efforts.