Very Tiny Voyage: Blommer’s Chocolate Factory, a Tasty Chicago Institution

For the better part of the last decade, I have passed by the Blommer’s chocolate factory on my daily commute into Chicago on the Union Pacific West line. On good days, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, the entire Loop smells like a giant brownie. It’s downright dreamy.

“Public Welcome,” beckons the sign on the side of the building. And lucky me! The location of my new office has now put me within a walking distance of the factory. So yesterday I set out on a mission to finally, after all these years, see what the Blommer factory is about.

Outside the chocolate factory, a semi loaded with sugar piped its contents directly into the factory through a tube. I’d like to own one of these someday.

If you go to Blommer, don’t count on a Willy Wonka experience; the public aren’t welcome in the actual factory. (Is it because the Oompa Loompas are camera shy? That’s my guess.) We are allowed only in the retail store, which is all that really matters when it comes to chocolate, anyway. I arrived during lunch to find workers in hair nets (just go ahead and picture Lucille Ball, except replace the cute redhead with some rough-looking tattoed men) hanging out in the reception area and covered in light dusting of cocoa powder.

The adjacent retail shop is stocked floor to ceiling with products made by the companies that buy Blommer’s chocolate, such as Long Grove Chocolates in Buffalo Grove. Blommer itself is mainly a business-to-business venture, but I did manage to find a chocolate bar with their name on the label.

I would love to say that the chocolate was amazing, but the taste was more like that cheap, nameless chocolate you find in gold coins, only fresh. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but my taste for chocolate has been spoiled by such finery as Theo Chocolate in Seattle. But Blommer is pure, old-school Chicago, and this is the chocolate every Polish grandmother in Chicago, including my own, likely grew up eating. And so for that reason alone, it’s worth a visit.