Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Marshall Field & Company introduced its famous candy, the Frango Mint, in 1929, but the illustrious downtown department store was founded much earlier, in 1881 (tracing its history back to 1856). Marshall Field’s (or just “Fields” as we called it back in the day) was rebuilt from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871; enlarged its floor space in anticipation of the 1893 Worlds Fair Columbian Exposition; added a candy line to boost sales during the Great Depression…and served as the destination for the lady’s who lunch for decades.
Alas, after spanning over a century, Fields is no more, suffering the ignoble fate of purchase by Macy’s in the 1990’s.
What is left to tell its tale? Swizzle Sticks
Here are two swizzle sticks and the one pick that I have collected. You might have a few of these in your collection and not know it. The earlier sticks are marked with the scrolling script of the iconic monogram logo (MF&Co).
Another stick, more recent, is a figural stick featuring the landmark Marshall Field’s clock on the corner of State Street and Washington. I wonder if this one might have been issued as a commemorative.
The Frango Mint Scandal of 1999*
Frango Mints were a chocolate-mint meltaway candy handmade on the 13th floor of the Marshall Field’s Department Store.
In the summer of 1976, Lillian Coleman arrived in Chicago from Mississippi; she landed her job at Frango Mints the same day. 25 years later, she (and her co-worker of 13 years, Helene Painter) related that the day the production line closed she (and 150 fellow candy workers) …were notified only two hours before the candy line was shut down on March 4th and that they were terminated, effective immediately.
"They just told us to take our things and go," said Painter.
*Excerpted from: Fired Frango Workers Seek Shoppers' Support | March 21, 1999 | William Presecky, Staff Writer | Chicago Tribune