Fannie May is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with a new look, both on its packaging and in its retail stores.
The company, which was acquired by Ferrero Group in 2017, has refreshed several of its 55 stores and totally remodeled others, including locations in the Chicago suburbs of Park Ridge, La Grange and Aurora.
Rick Fossalli, vice president and general manager for Fannie May Confections, said the company aimed to create a warm, inviting environment with traditional touches inspired by the chocolate shops of yesteryear.
“We wanted to make sure we brought alive a little bit more of what makes Fannie May special,” he told Candy Industry during a recent media day at the Park Ridge location. “It’s really about the look of the American chocolate shop in the 1920s.”
Featuring white tile, copper accents and decor designed to illustrate the handmade quality of Fannie May chocolates, the Park Ridge location also has a brightly lit, wraparound chocolate case and a digital canvas showing Fannie May fun facts and video footage of production.
Coffee and ice cream are also available, along with a new seating area at the rear of the store. Shelves are also stocked with pre-packed gift boxes.
“It’s creating that atmosphere where the customer gets to choose how they want to enjoy us,” Fossalli said.
The Park Ridge location officially opened Oct. 21, with the location in La Grange following the week after. The Aurora store, located in the Chicago Premium Outlets about 35 miles west of Chicago, shifted from part of the mall complex to another. It’s slated to open the middle of November.
“If we could get it done before the holidays, that was the key,” Fossalli said. “We took the summer, closed down, tore them all down and rebuilt. They did a great job staying on schedule, and we’re going to be able to meet our goal of being ready for the holidays.”
Earlier this year, Fannie May renewed 22 of its stores, freshening the paint and ceilings, and installing new floors, counters, lights and wallpaper.
While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t hamper any construction plans, it did prompt Fannie May to take its centennial celebration virtual. To mark National Chocolate Day on Oct. 28, Fannie May hosted virtual recipe demonstrations with its master chocolatier Elliott Callahan. The company has also debuted a new Double Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Pixie.
Fannie May’s 100th anniversary comes three years after Ferrero Group purchased the company from 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc. as part of its push to expand its footprint in the U.S. confectionery market.
Fossalli said the relationship between Fannie May, a largely regional retail manufacturer, and the global confectionery company has been mutually beneficial.
“Ferrero is unbelievably focused on quality, and so are we,” he said. ‘It’s been a really great partnership. We’ve learned from them, they’ve learned from us.”
Fannie May recently introduced the S’mores Snack Mix, featuring Fannie May milk chocolate, graham cereal and marshmallows, nationwide, and Ferrero facilitated the rollout. Ferrero has also offered expertise in operations and logistics.
“It’s definitely a different business for them, especially the retail side of things,” Fossalli said. “But I think the other side of the business, which they’re really good at, we’re learning from, too.”
And as of late last year, Fannie May products are now available on Amazon, allowing Chicago transplants across the country to access their favorite treats.
“We’ve got a lot of cool stuff happening,” Fossalli said. “We feel really good about now and the future.”