Chicago Sun-Times

9.30

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

- 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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