“We was robbed!” That’s all I could think of when Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, announced - in his Hercule Poirot voice - that Chicago had been eliminated in the first round.
Yes, I understand all the arguments behind choosing Rio: beautiful people, scantily clad; great natural vistas; even greater music; wonderful food; the continent had never hosted the Olympics before; Lula’s cute in a “Lord of the Rings” kind of way; and Portuguese must be one of the most melodic languages on earth, particularly as it’s spoken in Brazil.
But I’d better stop while I’m ahead here; otherwise, I’ll lose track of my counter-arguments. Look, Chicago has plenty of attractions, as well, in addition to the dream team - Oprah, the Obamas and Daley. Besides all the culture with a capital C - world-class museums, symphony, opera, dance companies, jazz and blues joints - there’s the lakefront, water taxis, Navy Pier, deep-dish pizza, ethnic restaurants, polite citizens, Millennium Park, the “L” … well, the list goes on.
But nowhere did I hear mention of the fact that Chicago is one of the best candy manufacturing places in the world. How did members of the Olympic Committee miss this?
Come on, athletes from all over the world would receive a goodie bag that couldn’t be beat: Snickers from Mars Snackfood US; Lemonheads and Red Hots from Ferrara Pan Co.; 5 gum from The Wrigley Co.; jelly beans from Jelly Belly Candy Co.; cut-rock candies from Primrose Candy Co., gummies from the Albanese Confectionery Group (I know, they’re in Merrillville, Ind., but call it geographic license); licorice from American Licorice Co. (Alsip, Ill., is close enough); chocolate-covered pretzels from Arway Confections; marshmallows from Doumak; Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops from Tootsie Roll Industries; chocolate from Blommer Chocolate Co., the Nestle Co., The Hershey Co., Long Grove Confectionery, Chocolate Potpourri and others; nuts from the Georgia Nut Co. and John B. San Filippo & Sons; and a host of sweet treats from various gourmet, mom-and-pop and entrepreneurial companies.
How sweet would that be?
Now, I realize that Chicago has lost quite a few candy manufacturing companies as a result of globalism, most notably Brach’s, Peerless and Fannie May. (I know the retail stores are still here, but manufacturing isn’t.)
Still, there’s quite a bit of candy-related activity going on in the Windy City, everything from the All Candy Expo, I mean Sweets & Snacks, hosted by the National Confectioners Association, to the American Association of Candy Technologists’ annual technical seminar.
We also have the French Pastry School here with it’s ongoing program of bringing in the best confectioners in the world to teach as well as Barry Callebaut’s North American headquarters and its Chocolate Academy - another wonderful confectionery resource.
Perhaps Chicago’s Olympic bid team failed to deliver samples of all the wonderful treats that are produced in my fair city to the committee members. If so, it’s shame on us. Hence, the cloud in this silver, so should I say, sweet lining.
So Rio, Chicago’s candymakers wish you well. Keep in mind, however, if they had been consulted on how to sway committee members, our bid would have been in the bag … a candy bag, of course.