Did you know Tootsie Rolls are made in Chicago?

4808E90E-6DE6-4429-A5C0-6D35C99382C0This week I got the biggest surprise. My daughter and I were entering the freeway when she yelled, “Mama, LOOK, it’s the Tootsie Roll truck.” As I was driving I couldn’t take a look, so I said, “Quick, take a picture, my blogging friends will enjoy seeing this.”

As you can see, she was quite the photographer, she got a GREAT shot of the truck. Then one night she was “behind” the Tootsie Roll truck and got a picture of the Owl and the famous saying of “How many licks in a tootsie roll pop?”

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Why the smiles and excitement? With our changing world, it is nice to know there are a few things from our childhood grade school days that still exists — AND — that is the Tootsie Roll, which has been produced in the United States since 1907.

Oh, and Leo Hirshfield (an Austrian immigrant) created this candy for his five year old daughter whose nickname was “Tootsie,” and there you have the name “Tootsie Roll.”

American soldiers ate tootsie rolls as field rations during WWII, because of the hardiness of the candy in different environmental conditions.

So, if you are ever in Chicago, keep your eye out for the Tootsie Roll truck. When you see it go buy, you’ll have to smile and THINK, “How many licks ARE THERE in a tootsie roll pop?”

Chicago: Take the Untouchable Tours, learn about Al Capone in the 1920s/30s

Untouchable Tour BusI was on a street corner one night when this “Untouchable Tours” bus went by. I whipped out my camera to get a picture. Clearly this was a gangster tour bus. You can see they have pictures of some of the gangsters in the windows.

Visiting the website, “Gangster Tour,” it sounds like this tour makes learning about Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s (Prohibition Era) entertaining, because the tour guides are actors that dress the part of a gangster. They say this tour has been going on for 30 years, I had no idea. This was not a nice time in Chicago history. It was the Italians in the South (Jonny Torrio/Al Capone) against the Irish in the North (Dion O’Bannion, Hymie Weiess, and Bugs Moran) fighting to control illegal vice in the city.

On their website, you’ll see a great picture of the actors! Their tour sounds like the Irish tours, where the tour guide has you sing a song too. Trip Advisor has excellent reviews on the tour, so I guess I’ll be booking my tour very soon.

Wouldn’t it be amusing if I dress the part?!! That would throw the tour guides off. I might just get a front row seat!

Chicago to Mackinac Island – Sailboat race starts tomorrow…

sailboats-1375064_960_720The race from Chicago to Mackinac Island starts tomorrow (Saturday, July 21, 2018). If you are in the area, head down to Navy Pier. It’s exciting and beautiful to see all the boats lining up to take off. They have different sized boats, so they leave at different times to make the race fair.

The reason this is exciting is because this is the oldest freshwater race in the world, it started in 1898. If you enjoy sailing, you might like to see this online tracking of the race. If you click on the “online tracking link,” you can see a picture of Lake Michigan with a line showing you how they will sail from Chicago to Mackinac Island. They sail nonstop, so they use spotlights at night. I believe there are about 340 boats and approximately 3,000 sailors.

Weather forecast not looking so good, rain and high winds.

So, you see, Chicago is known for a little bit more than just “Al Capone / gangsters.” Ah, I’m kidding, but did you know that Walt Disney was born in Chicago, 1901, and grew up here? He studied drawing at the Institute of Fine Arts. I leave you with Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Kind of Town (Chicago is)!”  AND The Blues Brothers with “Sweet Home Chicago.

Let the race begin!

Chicago: Painted Lighthouses by artists, many with disabilities

Lighthouse 2If you’ve been to Chicago, you know our Magnificent Mile is gorgeous in the summer. The flowers are in bloom in front of all the shop windows, the Chicago river looks fantastic and tourists are everywhere. We really enjoy summer, because we know that soon winter will be upon us.

Lighthouse 3A few days ago, I was walking down Michigan Avenue and I saw a lot of painted Lighthouses. Each one had it’s own theme. The Lighthouses on The Mag Mile™  are displayed for the public to enjoy celebrating people with disabilities. There are 51 six-foot lighthouses to see. I found a few and took pictures.

Lighthouse 4My daughter saw one that looked really spooky she said, with hands painted as if they were coming out of cracks in the wall. I was looking, but didn’t come across that one.

Lighthouse 1It’s a wonderful project, fun to see how creative the artists have been. The Lighthouse Art Display runs from June 19 – August 11, 2018.

Chicago: Goodbye Crate & Barrel… Welcome biggest Starbucks in the world

Crate and Barrel 2Change is good, I know, but Crate & Barrel, the flag ship store, 3 stories high with all glass windows has been on Michigan Ave for 28 years. I still remember the excitement when the store first opened. All the “oohs and aahs.” Just a few years ago, we learned that Macy’s was buying Marshall Field & Co., now Crate & Barrel is gone. Please, allow me a few sniffles.

This picture will go down in the retail history books. I wanted to get the last photo of Crate & Barrel with their signage. Chuckling though, because somehow, the way I took this picture it looks like the second “leaning tower of Pisa!”

As most of you know, the papers say retail is dying, not 100%, but enough to have different store closings. This is sad, but we have to go with the times. When I look at this photo, I can absolutely see a Starbucks there. It’s a beautiful store with it’s open windows, elegant escalators and the location on Michigan Ave can’t be beat. This is prime real estate. The biggest Starbucks in the world. WOW – in Chicago!

I didn’t realize this, but Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks, said that 30 years ago Chicago was where they opened their “first” Starbucks outside of Seattle. This is sentimental, of course. So, 30 years later, Schultz is going “really big” with Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which will be a four story, 43,000 sq ft interactive coffee shop. They will roast, brew and package coffee there.

Is Amazon next? Chicago is still on Amazon’s top 20 list for a second headquarters. So, maybe, just maybe, we will have TWO heavy hitters from Seattle moving into Chicago!

Stay tuned, book your flights is all I can say! Tourists will be coming!

Sprinkles – A cupcake for January birthdays! Use the ATM…

Sprinkles ATM cupcakeMy daughter and I were out celebrating her birthday recently., which was fun. A birthday celebration does not seem complete without a birthday cake. While we didn’t need a BIG cake, we wanted a slice of cake, something decadent… where to go? Aha, we decided on “Sprinkles.” She loves the coconut cupcakes and so do I, so off we went.

Sprinkles storeAs she was placing her order, I happened to see that they had an ATM cupcake vending machine outside. You can see photo, that’s how the machine looks in the early evening, all lit up. I remember hearing about the ATM cupcake machines a few years ago, and thought it was a fad that would die out, but it’s still going – 24 hour service. That means if we have a late night craving for a cupcake, a decadent one, we can fulfill our sweet tooth’s desire.

Sprinkles has strategic locations throughout the U.S. (San Francisco Bay Area, Beverly Hills, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas to name a few). The cupcakes are very big, a bit expensive, but remember you are treating yourself.

In January they are serving “Breakfast Cupcakes,” now that will give you a sugar high. If you live near a Sprinkles, I would suggest joining their reward program, you’ll get a FREE cupcake on your birthday!

So – HAPPY BIRTHDAY to January birthdays!

Treat yourself! Start the year off right with a Sprinkles cupcake!