FRANGO, CUPID — A LOVE MATCH South Side com­pany to make iconic brand for Macy’s

Chicago Sun-Times - - BUSINESS - BY SAN­DRA GUY

John Ste­fanos of Cupid Can­dies re­mem­bers his mother, Pauline, tak­ing the fam­ily to Mar­shall Field & Co.’s Wal­nut Room for Christ­mas.

He en­joyed Field’s Frango Mints, even though they were a ri­val to Cupid’s French Mint and Mint Melt­away.

Un­der own­er­ship of Day­ton Hud­son in 1999, Field’s dis­ap­pointed Frango fans by mov­ing pro­duc­tion to Penn­syl­va­nia. But un­der Macy’s own­er­ship last year, the whole Field’s name dis­ap­peared, re­placed by Macy’s logo and brands, en­rag­ing lo­cals. In an ef­fort to calm his cus­tomer base, Macy’s CEO Terry Lund­gren promised to re­turn Frango pro­duc­tion to Chicago if he could find a lo­cal man­u­fac­turer.

That’s when Ste­fanos con­tacted Macy’s, and his bet paid off. Last month, Macy’s an­nounced that Cupid will pro­duce the No. 1-sell­ing Frango prod­uct — the mint choco­late in a one-pound box.

“We are happy. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for ex­pan­sion, and I’m over­joyed,” Ste­fanos said.

Ste­fanos’ par­ents, Paul, a Greek im­mi­grant, and Pauline, a na­tive of Quincy, Ill., started Cupid Can­dies in 1936 at 3143 W. 63rd St.

Cupid now makes boxed choco­lates at its 18,000square-foot fac­tory at 7637 S. West­ern Ave., where it em­ploys 18 full-time em­ploy­ees and as many as 20 ex­tras dur­ing peak sea­sons.

Cupid makes candy for other com­pa­nies such as Crate & Bar­rel, Figi’s, Golden Farm Can­dies and El­gin-based Terry Lynn Inc.

Cupid also op­er­ates two ice- cream par­lors in Oak Lawn and Or­land Park, and a re­tail store at the plant.

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Macy’s ex­panded Frango Mints na­tion­wide af­ter it ac­quired Mar­shall Field’s and nine other re­gional de­part­ment-store chains from May De­part­ment Stores for $11 bil­lion two years ago.

More than 1 mil­lion pounds of Frango Mints are pro­duced each year in eight ba­sic fla­vors, plus spe­cial sea­sonal fla­vors and a trans­fat-free pink Frango ded­i­cated to breast- can­cer aware­ness.

Cupid Can­dies faces a po­ten­tially big ex­pan­sion, but will start mak­ing Frango Mints grad­u­ally. Cupid will first make Frango Mints for the Chicago mar­ket and ex­pects even­tu­ally to ramp up to na­tion­wide pro­duc­tion.

Said Macy’s spokes­woman Jen­nifer McNa­mara, “We see this as a long-term part­ner­ship with Cupid.”

Frango’s ex­ist­ing man­u­fac­turer, Gertrude Hawk Choco­lates in Penn­syl­va­nia, will con­tinue to make all other Frangos, as well as Frango cof­fee, cook­ies, bak- ing chips and dessert top­ping.

Frango’s re­turn is one of sev­eral deals that Macy’s has inked with Chicago-based food mak­ers and bak­ers:

Last week, Macy’s started serv­ing Ober­weis Ice Cream in the Frango Cafe at State Street. The 82-year-old Ober­weis dairy is head­quar­tered in North Aurora.

Sarah Levy, the daugh­ter of Levy Restau­rant co­founder Mark Levy and the niece of Levy Restau­rant Chair­man Larry Levy, on Nov. 9 opened her sec­ond Sarah’s Pas­tries & Can­dies shop on the main floor of Macy’s State Street store. She is mov­ing her com­pany’s kitchen from Lyons to the store’s sev­enth floor.

Chicago chef Rick Bay­less’ Fron­tera Fresco eatery, which opened in Macy’s on State, is sched­uled to open in Macy’s Union Square in San Fran­cisco on Dec. 15.

Macy’s chose Chicagob­ased Eli’s Cheese­cake to make a Frango Mint cheese­cake for the 62 for­mer Field’s stores, now called Macy’s North.

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