Raise The Candy Bar

Place your candy orders today to make it a sweet day! Call us at: 847-677-5777

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How I met Governor Quinn

Last week I wrote how Meeting the Governor was one of the seasons top 5. Why you may ask?

Since this is not a political piece it has nothing to do with the governor himself. It had more to do with the venue which I met the Governor at and why I met the Governor, and the fact that the booth and I were on the Channel 9 News for a brief moment. Too bad it was not a flattering shot of me or a great shot of the products but if you want to watch the clip its on my youtube channel about 50 seconds into the clip.

For the last two years we have been participated in the Aids Foundation of Chicago's World of Chocolate. The event is a great opportunity for me to get outside of our normal network and meet new and interesting people.

This year we did something a little different -- the event was during Hanukkah so I thought it would be nice to have a table with a seasonal  theme of Hanukkah and Christmas.

All was good we were ready for event and then my wife heard that Civil Unions were going to become legal in Illinois. It was time to act quickly the event was the next day.

I called my friends at the sign store and and had them make a quick congratulations sign. Then I raided our display case. In May 2010 we debuted our LGBT friendly cake toppers.

Our goal as a business is to be inclusive whether it be for those with allergies / dietary restrictions such as Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Lactose / Casein Free, for those in the LGBT community as well as other communities outside of the traditional Jewish Community that Kosher stores normally cater to.

The life of the candy man is sweet, I get to go to fun events, meet interesting people and to paraphrase  Sammy Davis I mix it with love and make the world taste good this candy man can.

Have a sweet and healthy new year to all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the day before ...

Chocolate Covered Christmas Pretzels
- Lactose & Casein Free

Twas the day before Christmas, the biggest gifting time of the year thanks to Hanukkah and Christmas. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim or an Atheist we all love the extended shopping hours the season offers, the big sales at the chain stores, spending time with our family and friends. As I sit here trying to come up with an interesting and relevant blog the following occurred to me, five (5) distinct things happened around the store this past month or so.

Here is the the Life of the Candy Man's Top Five of the Holiday Season; not in any particular order:

This Chocolate Light is life-sized
-5- Helping several new corporate clients brand themselves in chocolates from chocolate shoes to chocolate light bulbs just to name a few.  Seeing their face or hearing the smile through the phone or through an email makes the long hours worth while.

-4- Our newest customer a six year old little boy who happened to have a Jewish teacher. During Hanukkah the teacher brought in Hanukkah Gelt or "chocolate coins" to his class. The little boy is allergic to Casein and this was his first experience with chocolate. The teacher told the mom about our store and a family outing took place. The look on his face when he saw all the Lactose Free, Casein Free, and Pareve choices he had was priceless.

-3- Meeting the Governor of Illinois. (look for a blog next week)

Semi Sweet Coffee Toffee Bark. Our
newest bark. We take our own hand
made toffee and mix it with freshly
gound coffee to create this mouth
watering confection.

-2- A few new confections.  From Lactose free Casein Free Christmas Pretzels to our new Coffee Toffee Bark.

-1- During Hanukkah a family came to the store. The parent's present to each the kids was that each one could get a few of anything in the store. There were four kids ranging in age from about 2 - 10 or so. The older three got a combination of count items, jaw breaker and pucker powder. Then this little girl walks over to a Yum Yum bag and proceeds to pick up this four and half pound bag of candy. The parents had quite a time convincing the little girl that this was not an option. She eventually got what her big sister got.

The Life of the Candy Man is a sweet one.

Yum Yum Bag makes a great gift for any
occasion. Includes ju ju fish, laffy taffy,
candy corn, cherry sours, & red bites; or
customize your own.

Happy Holidays to all and if you don't or celebrate any of the holidays this past month I hope you enjoyed the extra time off of work, the sweet treats around the office and the sales.

Have a sweet weekend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow and the Blood Drive

Our blood drive was yesterday and it was a cold snowy day. The bad weather along with a bunch of people having colds etc kept down our donations a bit this year.

On the plus size those who came enjoyed some yummy treats even if LifeSource disqualified them.

Thank you again to all of you were so gracious to donate your time and blood and a special thank to the 2010 Mrs. Illinois Jennifer Naida who helped recruit customers to become donors as well as showed support to the donors on the bus.

So for those who missed yesterday never fear you can always go to a local LifeSource location and give them the code 146B that is the same as if you were on the bus. Need to find a location near you click this link to find a location near you.

Every day may not be a sunny day in Life of the Candy Man but every day is a sweet one. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Lactose and Casein Free Products

Lactose Free/Casein
Free Chocolate Covered
Holiday Pretzels
It's been a bit nutty here at the Illinois Nut & Candy store, and it is safe to say that the "life of the candy man" has been happily exhausting the last few weeks.

Just wanted to post about two exciting new treats for those who can't eat Lactose or Casein.

For years those ever popular Christmas pretzels have been a treat that everyone loves. Only, one little problem: they have food coloring and they are covered in a milk based coating.

So, thanks to the advice of my five year old son, we now offer a treat that is perfect for those who can't have food coloring as well as those who, for various health reasons can't process Lactose or Casein.

White Chocolate Holiday
Pretzels (Lactose and
Casein Free)
For the time first at Illinois Nut & Candy and possibly the world, Raising the Candy Bar (our online store) is proud to introduce Lactose Free/Casein Free Christmas Pretzels.

Happy Sweet Holidays!

P.S. Our 3rd Annual LifeSource Blood Drive is this Sunday December 12, 2010, from 10:30am - 3:30PM. And now through Dec 31st you can SAVE BIG on all or your holiday purchases from Illinois Nut & Candy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Save 10% Off your Holiday Purchases

From now through Dec 31st you can SAVE BIG on all or your holiday purchases from Illinois Nut & Candy.
Deluxe Mini Pretzel Rods
Mention “cartoon” when checking out at the store and receive 10% off your holiday order.

Or to take advantage of this discount online. Simply enter 'cartoon' into the Promotional or Gift Certificate Code during Step 2 of check out.

Have a Sweet Holiday!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chocolate Shoes Anyone?

Chocolate Shoes |
Custom Corporate Branding by Illinois Nut & Candy
Part of living the life of the candy man is helping our corporate customers brand themselves in a unique sweet way.

To paraphrase a friend who is a PI and always talks about the case of the week, this week's chocolate mystery includes the following:

Perspective client calls and wants four chocolate shoes in a box for a trade show she also wanted each unit to be about $3.00 - $3.75 per unit.

I said great when is the trade show and she told me she needed the items by November 30th. First my brain said an expletive and then I caught my breath and said no problem we just need to take advantage of the overnight services of an air carrier.

The perspective client called back the next day and emailed me images to put into chocolate.

So I bribed the mold maker with his favorite chocolate and then bribed the box company with their favorite chocolates. Yes chocolate is a great bribe, but that is a blog for a different day.

So while the rest of the country was celebrating black Friday we celebrated milk chocolate and white chocolate "Shoe" Friday. We packed the boxes of chocolate shoes and waited for them to be picked up for over night delivery.

Yesterday I got the nicest email from the customer she wrote;
"We received the chocolates - they look amazing! We love them! I didn't taste them, but I know these will add the perfect touch to our market week. Thanks again!"
Have a sweet day!

PS -- with the holiday craziness I may not be posting as often so don't think I forgot.

Also, if you are in the Chicago on Sunday December 12th and can help out with my 3rd Annual LifeSource Blood Drive, please stop by the store at 3745 W Dempster street or call me, David Levine for more info (847) 677-5777

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blood drive information

Illinois Nut & Candy has teamed up with LifeSource once again in sponsoring our Third Annual blood drive on Sunday December 12th, 2010. The LifeSource Coash will be parked in our parking lot between 10:30am & 4:30pm and ready to receive all donors. Additionally, 2010 Mrs. Illinois International Jennifer Naida will be passing out sweet treats on the day of the blood drive.

You too can help us to give the gift of life by donating your blood and less than an hour of your time.

In return you receive the following...

1.  A positive feeling knowing that you helped someone, most likely a cancer patient who can receive the transfusion in as soon as 5 days.

2.  Various health benefits including:
- a Free Mini Physical; blood pressure, iron & pulse tested; and
- a Free Cholesterol reading

3.  Illinois Nut & Candy cookies and confections in the LifeSource Coach

4.  10% off all purchases through the end of the year

5.  A FREE bag of popcorn to take with you on the road

Donations are way down this year and I have promised that I could get 50 people to donate blood. We are currently at 5 donors, and am asking you to help me keep my word and save lives.

Please email David Levine (info@illinoisnut.com) or call  (84) 677-5777 to sign up for a time that is convenient for you between 10:30am & 4:30pm on Sun. Dec, 12, 2010.

Happy and Sweet Holidays to you and your family from Illinois Nut & Candy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A picture says a 1000 words.

or 10% OFF your online holiday purchases thru 12/31/10

A few years ago I hired a talented artist to help with a holiday postcard. He created the cartoon below telling people about our chocolates and kettle popcorn.

Being its the season enjoy!

Click this picture to shop with us online at illinoisnut.com

Use PROMO code 'cartoon' during Step 2 of Checkout and receive 10% OFF your online holiday purchase at illinoisnut.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chocolate Pizza?

Yes as the Candy Man I get many requests. Some of the most interesting requests that I have got in the past that are suitable for this blog were...

Can you make me a chocolate lobster

At the time we couldn't but we got the molds and were able to by the time the client needed the lobster.

Can you make a chocolate violin?

Of course were have an entire music themed collection on our website, which includes the pianos, violins, a saxophone and a variety of musical notes.

But the latest request that I got was for Chocolate Pizza. Yes chocolate pizza. We had small pizza boxes on hand from when a client once order popcorn pizza for a holiday gift. So we made two slices of pizza in chocolate and sent the link to the client.

The client wanted to know could we make it look more like pizza so we did.

She was happy I assume the recipient was happy too.

All part of the day in the Life of the Candy Man.

If you have a custom request please email me at info@illinoisnut.com to make your vision a reality.

Have a sweet day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gobble Gobble | Giving Thanks with Chocolate & Candy

Gobble Gobble Candy Lovers,

Right now the store is filled with festive treats such as Pilgrim Pretzels, Wishbone Lollis, Turkey Lollis and a large selection of Jelly Beans in a rainbow of individual colors and flavors.

Pilgrim PretzelWith just 14 days until Thanksgiving its about that time to stock up on your favorite Thanksgiving treats from Illinois Nut & Candy.

Looking for hostess gift?

Illinois Nut and Candy has several pre-made Gift Baskets to choose from or customize your own.

Mention “gobblegobble” when checking out at the store and receive 10% off your holiday order.

Mixed Jelly BeansYou may also take advantage this of discount when placing your order online. Simply enter 'gobblegobble' into the Promotional or Gift Certificate Code during Step 2 of check out.

Have a Sweet Day!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shiva or Condolence Tray

Sorry this post is a bit of a downer but this is what happened in the Life of the Candy Man.

As I have mentioned before we do a lot of work with life cycle events

Usually happy ones but at times sad ones too. We send Shiva or Condolence baskets and or tray  to a family.  Shiva literally translates to English as seven which is the initial time that a Jewish Family traditionally mourns the passing of a spouse, parent, or child.

We have sent many trays to both Jewish and and Non Jewish people as bereavement gifts. Its sweeter than flowers and sweet treat or nuts are ideal to have around while families and friends sit around and remember the ones they lost.

Last week I had an unfortunate life cycle event of my own my step grand father who was part of my life of the last three decades passed away. He lived to a ripe old age of 99 and had a good life. It was strange though as I took phone orders from people who were sending my family trays listening to the cards being given.

Where on most occasions I am able to help write these cards with the traditional sentiments like:
  • Our Deepest Condolences
  • May G-d be with you in your time of loss

Last week I was simply a scribe.

So not all weeks are sweet in the Life of the Candy Man but I do my best to help sweeten up the lives of those around me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Visual Treat

As I mentioned the other day we had a Halloween Themed Networking Event at the store.

So I thought that I would display some pictures of the sweet treats who needs any tricks.

Our own chocolate covered pretzels with oranges seeds
A three tiered chocolate tray with an assortment of turtles and barks and Halloween themed chocolates

A three tiered chocolate tray with an assortment of turtles and barks and Halloween themed chocolates
English Toffee, Peppermint Patties  and Halloween themed chocolates.

Candy corn and our famous baked goods made with my Mother In Law's recipe.
Yes the Life of the Candy Man is sure a sweet one.

Trick or in this case a Visual  Treat and Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dressing up as Willy Wonka

Back in March Fox News dubbed me the Kosher Willy Wonka. I am known around the area as the Candy Man; but when I meet people for the first time people occasionally ask me what it is like to be Willy Wonka?

I always respond that it is sweet. Yes it is a canned response but it is true. That brings me to this weeks entry.

I go to various networking events and I am a  member of various networking groups. This week two of the groups I am involved with were having a business after hours at my store. The theme for the party was an early Halloween Party. Costumes were optional.

Being the host and being the Candy Man I figured I needed to dress up. What to be was a no brainer. I was going to be the Willy Wonka. OK -- truth be told  I was the only one who put on a costume.

The first thing I did was google Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. I found multiple sites that had pictures from the movie as well as costume companies. I actually bought the costume from one of the sites but returned it because it looked like the amount I spent. In the end I bought a purple sport coat and had a seamstress help with the vest with material that I bought at a local fabric store.

So what do you think here is Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka
Picture From http://calitreview.com/7238
And here is me the Candy Man aka The Kosher Willy Wonka.

Picture compliments of http://www.starbellystudios.com/

Yes living the Life of the Candy Man is so Sweet.

PS -- stay tuned for a future blog with pictures of the sweet table at the business after hours.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Skulls and Cross Bones Oh My

Every week I ponder what am I going to write about. Some weeks it is easy and some week I wait for the interesting candy story of the week.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from a perspective client. She was looking for skull and cross bones candy, for a Halloween party she was having at her office.

She found us online and we did not even have that item on the web (we do now). Anyway she was looking for prepacked bags of the candy by Today at 11:00 am.  My staff is really good (if I say so myself) but superwomen they are not. I suggested we sell the her the candy in bulk and she put it into a big bowl. The perspective client said she would think about it and get back to us.

A little bit later she called and decided to go for it. So I picked up the candy for her at the candy warehouse and made it happen. We arranged with now the client that her messenger would arrive before the store  opened today so she could get her product on time.

All part of living the Life of the Candy Man, who says there are no such things as candy emergencies.

Have a sweet day!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Pineapple a Symbol of Hospitality

Just the other day I learned something new, the Pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. I have been in the confection and gift giving business now for over six years and just learned this interesting fact.

I have loved pineapple since I was a kid but had no idea of its history. Gina from Welcome to My City who told me the interesting fact was kind enough to forward me an article explaining the history of the pineapple becoming a symbol of hospitality.

I don't want to plagiarize so here are the cliff notes:
  • 1493 Columbus brought the pineapple to Europe
  • For 200 years Europeans tried to grow them 
  • Colonial Americans put a Pineapple on the table when having guests
  •  The pineapple served during colonial times was a as sign of a warm welcome as well as dessert
How does this all tie into the Life of the Candy Man? It ties into the many pineapple flavored product which we sell. My personal favorite is the milk chocolate dipped pineapple

Have a sweet day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Sweetest Ride

Illinois Nut & CandyPart of living the Life of the Candy Man is all about marketing myself and the company. We have done this in several unique ways first was the outside of the building.

Next was my van. Yes many companies have lettering on their vans as do we on our big Ford Panel Van. But when I was getting ready to get a new vehicle I decided...
  • I needed something over the top
  • Something that turned peoples heads
  • Something that made people want to come to the store
So that is what I did I worked with the graphic artists at Three Cat Media. I explained to them that I needed something that would turn heads. After Rob came up with the final design my five year old said something along the lines of "... I want to eat the truck" we sent the files over to Shira at Speedpro. And whalla two days later I had the most noticeable ride in town.

Candy Van Here is where the story gets good. My Wife subscribes to Angie's Listback in June while reading the magazine she saw the advertisement for the Trump My Truck Contest. So with a little photographic help from my Sister In-law Jenny (thanks for the great picture) we entered the contest. Little did I know that we were entering the inaugural year of the contest. But we entered and became the first winner of the Trump My Truck

To celebrate the victory we are offering the following use PROMO code TRUCK and get 20% off of your next online order valid through the end of the year.

Anglie's ListBy the way if you are a member of Angie's List and have used our services giving us a review to go along with the one we have would be great!

Catering in Chicago

Have a sweet day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

It Was Close...

Part of living the Life of the Candy Man is delivering what you promise. Making the chocolate is the easy part I control what gets made on what day. Unfortunately we are beholden on packaging companies and shipping companies to make our custom orders a reality.

Over the last month we have been closed quite a bit because of all the Jewish Holidays. Rosh Hashanah and Sukkoth in particular. Anyway we had an order for an existing customer who happens to be a not for profit.  Their event was last Wednesday night. We promised delivery of their party favors the Monday before. The party favors were custom business cards 

(which we already had the mold for)  with a custom printed box.

The client ordered a bit late but I assured them that all was good. The boxes were ordered, the chocolate was made and we were ready to pack the boxes when the carrier showed up on Monday. The carrier came but no boxes. I called the box company as I was getting that sinking feeling in my gut and asked if they had a tracking #. The client rep pulled up the tracking # and said that the carrier had left the boxes by the back door the Friday before when we were closed. At which point I felt like hurling .

I called the depot and they got a hold of the driver who happened to be a substitute. The driver freely told the depot that he left the boxes behind a dumpster in the alley the previous Friday because we were closed. After several expletives I hung up called the box company and told them what happened. My question was could the boxes and there were several cases worth be reprinted and overnight-ed. The box company (who I love and have sent chocolate too) told me that I could have the boxes in the early AM on Wednesday.

I then called my client with the bad news and gave her 2 choices
1) blank boxes with the custom chocolate ready Monday afternoon as originally promised 
2) the custom boxes delivered on Wednesday right before the event.

The client said she trusted me and would wait for the custom chocolate until right before the event on Wednesday.  The carrier arrived early last Wednesday morning and then the entire team pulled together and packed the order. I can honestly say that sometime the Life of the Candy Man is stressful and causes me to have either less hair or more gray hair. 

That being said here is a bit of the email the client sent me after the event.
"Thank you for getting the chocolates to the hotel on time! It worked out great.

Another sweet success story of a branded party -- too bad it was so stressful.
Have a sweet day!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Gift of Life

As I have mentioned My wife and I feel that it is important to give back to community.  We  have done this in numerous ways mostly by giving gift certificates to the local library, charities and schools. But the one project that we have been working on,  now going onto our Third year is our annual Life Source Blood Drive. This year's  drive is scheduled for Sunday December 12, 2010.

How does candy / chocolate and blood mix? It doesn't really but here are a few ways using my creativity...

chocolate makes you feel good

                        ---- giving the gift of life makes you feel good

showing your appreciation through a gift box makes the recipient feel good

                        ---- receiving the gift of life makes you feel good

Each year the blood drive has grown. Our first year we collected about 22 pints of blood, last year we collected 29 pints of blood. These numbers do not include the number of people who came and were not eligible to donate or those who had prior commitments on that day so they gave a different day.

This year I a happy to announce that Jennifer Naida the 2010 Mrs. Illinois International will be at our
 blood drive helping recruit donors.  Jennifer's personal platform is Help and Hope: The Vasculitis Foundation, as well as the International Pageant’s national platform, Go Red for Women for the American Heart Association.  Additionally, Jennifer is the founder/support group leader of the Northern Illinois Vasculitis Foundation Chapter.

So over the next few months I will periodically blog about the blood drive. How can you help me?

-1- Spread the word everyone who comes to my store on Sunday December 12th will get FREE treats. Besides for helping to do a good thing it is a great networking opportunity.

-2- Volunteer to donate. The first 10 people who sign up and show up will get a special gift.

Thank you for your support and helping me live the Life of the Candy Man.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Taffy Apple

Living the Life of the Candy Man one observes many trends. Such as the current in color, the current in flavors. But one thing that is constant is that during this time of year apples are very popular for a variety of reasons.

Whether it be for the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah with the dipping of an apple in honey, families going apple picking  (which I have happy memories of as a kid ), or people bobbing for apples (do people still do that or am dating myself?) Apples are an integral part of the fall.

My wife recently bought a book for our kids about apples I learned more facts about apples that I ever wanted to learn. I was surprised that the book did not discuss the taffy apple. But what it did was give me the idea for this entry. 

We can thank the Brits for this awesome creation at the end of the 19th century.  Over the next 200 years or so a variety of people and companies made taffy apples too. In addition to the many companies making taffy apples so did the previous owners of Illinois Nut & Candy. They  made 4 basic apples, the classic, the half dipped sprinkle with a variety of sprinkle colors (which we turned into a full dip), the traditional New York Style candy apple and the fudge apple.

As we grew the business and developed new recipes the number of taffy apples continued to grow. Some of the apples were because of customer requests like the Chocolate Taffy Apple with Caramel and Buttered Popcorn Jelly Beans. Not my favorite but it made someone happy.

Others were from our staff experimenting with new flavors and textures. Regardless, everyone has their favorite taffy apple mine is pretty boring the simple classic apple.

But for those who like to be adventurous we have over 25 varieties of apples which now include a yes if you can believe it Sugar Free Taffy Apple option too!

So since a picture is worth a 1000 words...

 ... please enjoy the sweet site of the following and feel free to indulge by order one online. Use the promo code lotcmapple and get 25% off of your next order.

Have a sweet day! 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fifty Golden Years

The Life of the Candy Man is sweet. You see many memorable milestones from Baby Showers to Birthdays Religious life cycle events and then the Golden Anniversary.

About a week ago a nice women called the store asking if we could help with her party favors for her 50th Anniversary Party. I told her we could and suggested that she come to the store so we could talk further and let her pick something that really made her happy. Her fear was that the store was not wheel chair accessible.   I assured her that the store was and we scheduled an appointment for later that day.

About 2 hrs later she and her husband showed up. After we talked we decided to do a custom four piece candy box in gold with a gold hot stamp on top.

We then selected the chocolates to place inside.  As planned her husband picked up the chocolates the other day. He was thrilled with the way the boxes looked.

So whether we are doing unique corporate gifts, party favors, or helping people with matching a color to a party the Life of the Candy Many is really sweet.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Six Years and Counting

Part of Happy Occasion Lolli Series

People often ask how did I become the Candy Man. Let me tell you this was not what I had planned on when I was growing up. I rode the dot com wave only to be unemployed and then I worked in a municipal government position prior to owning Illinois Nut Outlet with my wife which we renamed to be Illinois Nut and Candy.

The life of a candy man is at times truly sweet but it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. So here are some examples of the blood sweat and tears that I have shed.

Blood -- When I thought about blood the first thought that came to mind was the red chocolates that symbolized blood in the chocolate ten plagues. The plagues are very poplar Passover confection, but then I realized that I had really bleed. Being we make our own confections we have numerous pieces of equipment. As a owner I have two choices pay to have them fixed when they break or repair them myself. As every mechanic will tell you you need the right tools. Unfortunately I do not always have the correct tools the end result is a cut so yes I have bleed for the business.

Sweat -- As a small business owner you wear many hats; custodian, chocolatier, stock boy, sales person, HR you get the idea. Well all of the those jobs can make you sweat but the one that truly causes one to get a workout is unloading a truck . Can't decide which causes you to sweat more unloading  a truck in the heat or unloading a truck in sub zero temps -- yes you can sweat even when the thermometer reads below zero.

Tears -- Sometimes this job makes you laugh so hard you cry and other times you simply cry. This past year I admit I sat at my desk and cried numerous times. It all goes back to a little boy named Carter who we donated over 8000 gumballs to. Carter was dieing and his dream was to have it rain gumballs. We made this dream come true. As a result I followed his Dad's blog for the better part of a year and a bit until unfortunately Carter passed away. The day that I read his eulogy I cried.

So as I/We celebrate our 6th year in Business and my 6th year living the Life of the Candy Man I know I will bleed this year because something will break, I will sweat because we will get deliveries, and I hope the reason I cry is because I am laughing so hard.

Have a sweet day!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting Ready for the Jewish New Year

The Life of a Candy Man is a cyclical life. I go from Holiday to Holiday helping my clients/customers either create a unique corporate gift for themselves or their company or at times simply coming up with cute hostess gifts in our store.

As the Jewish New Year approaches for many Jews this is a time of self introspection. For me and my staff it is a busy time. The Rabbi's work on their speeches and I / we (my staff) work on orders. For the last few years as the Holiday approaches the Rabbi is walking to Synagogue while I am rushing home to get ready myself ready for the Holiday (its hard not to let that last minute shopper or two in).

In the store we have created a chocolate bee hives, an assortment of  chocolate lollis that are seasonal as well as many gift baskets and boxes of chocolate ready for our customers to bring as hostess gifts as they go to Family and Friends.

Something new this yeas is a Chocolate Rams Head Lolli. Why you may ask? Sephardic Jews eat the head of a Ram to symbolize the animal with which was sacrificed by Abraham as a substitute for his son Isaac. Just as our customers have been easting the heads of chocolate fish which is a Rosh Hashanah symbol that we should be leaders and not followers. Yes an animal head of chocolate is much easier to stomach than the real thing.

It is a traditional that many people wish each other a sweet new year which is so similar to what I wish people on a regular day when I close many a conversation with Have a Sweet Day!

To which I say have a Sweet New Year as well as a Sweet Day!

PS -- promise the next post will not be a lesson in Judaism

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Chocolate Hebrew Alphabet and an Upsherin

No two days are alike in the life of a Candy Man. I am always gettin many different requests for life cycle events. This weeks life cycle request was for an Upsherin.  For the vast majority of the Jewish and Non Jewish population here is a definition of an Upsherin:
"A child's third birthday signals a major transition in his or her education. For the first three years of life, a child absorbs the surrounding sights and sounds and the parents' loving care. The child is a receiver, not yet ready to give. At the age of three, children's education takes a leap—they are now ready to produce and share their unique gifts.For a Jewish boy, this transition is marked with a ceremony. It is age-old custom to allow a boy's hair to grow untouched until he's three years old. On his third Jewish birthday, friends are invited to a hair cutting." Source Chabad.org
Our customer requested that we help with the hair cutting party by supplying a chocolate party favor. I spoke with her on the phone and we came up with the idea of doing a small Chocolate  Hebrew Letter for each child who attended. Additionally the customer wanted something unique for her son as some families have the custom that at the party the child has a sweet experience with the Hebrew Alphabet. We decided to create a Jumbo Chocolate Hebrew Alphabet Bar
 that her son could eat the letters off of.  We delivered the order last week and the customer was really happy with the uniqueness of it. I was happy that the project gave me the push that I needed to get a set of Hebrew Letters online.

So another week another unique chocolate creation and for those who are of other faiths we do those life  cycle events as well.

Have a sweet day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Day in the life of the Candy Man - The Candy Man Helps a Customer Say Happy Birthday

People on a regular basis call and say help I need a unique gift. Some time it is for a corporate gift such as a referral gift, holiday gift or even an I'm sorry gift. Then there are time when I get asked how about a unique gift for a life cycle event. Well that is what happened the other day.

One of our customer's called and said, "I need something unique and different for my husbands 30th birthday." She did not want a typical cake and needed something that she could take with to a dinner party that she was having for her husband at a restaurant.

After thinking I suggested that we make a milk chocolate candy box (yes the actual box is chocolate).

I then suggested that we fill it with a variety of milk and white chocolates (since she said that was what they liked) and then we personalize the top.

The customer loved the idea and you should have the seen the smile on her face when she picked up the gift for her husband. 

Have a sweet weekend.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Flight of the Chocolate Butterfly

On a regular basis we get asked to create something unique for a party by either a caterer or the person having the party.  Last week the request was a colorful one. A caterer was asked to do a party at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago. They are know for the their butterfly exhibit. (Been there cool place).

The caterer needed to enhance his sweet table in a unique way. The idea was to include chocolate butterflies, chocolate rocks gummi worms and flower power.

Photo of sweet table provided by Chicago Tailgators

Helping a party have the necessary sweet confections is all part of being the candy man.

This weeks party planner request ...the color red.

Have a sweet day!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Being Part of the Community

My wife and I believe that it is important to give back to the community. We actively give gift certificates to charities that request them, we partner with the Skokie Library, as well as LifesSource (by the way our 3rd Annual Blood Drive is Sunday December 12th) but one of the fun things that we do is work with the Skokie Park Distrcict.

Last night we sponsored the Magical Merry-Go-Round performance of Ken "The Flying Fool" Schultz perform a symphony of juggling, physical comedy, humor and improvisation at Norman Schack Park

Ken is a funny guy who is very creative his website is http://www.flyingfool.com/. What I love about these events for me is that I get an opportunity to get into the community with the Candy Van and give out our candy which of course is branded as well as some gift certificates to the store. The Park District is great they allow me to do an extended elevator speech and park the van next to the stage. 

Other than the heat it was a great event and the best of all it was free to the families to who attended. 

Have a sweet day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

No place like home... or what once was

At Illinois Nut & Candy we help our customer place orders for life cycle events such as baby's, birthday's, Bar and Bat Mitzvah  and Weddings.

Today I was helping a nice lady place an order for her Daughter's Bat Mitzvah. ( I digress but  her color theme was pink and I need to mention that we match candy and confections to a parties color)

As part of the order taking process I asked for her billing address for her credit card. She started to give me the number and I as I wrote it down I realized that I had lived in that house during part of my childhood. 

What a small world so after I asked a bunch of questions about how the house has stayed the same or changed I finished taking her order wished her a Mazel Tov and told her to have a sweet day.

The conversation made me think back to some happy times in the house I spent part of my youth in.

As I hung up the phone I had a smile of my face and was ready to help the next customer who did not live a house that I once lived in but down the block ... just kidding.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Unique Anniversary Gift

Hello -

In addition to helping our customers create unique corporate gifts we do a lot of party favors, as well as gifts for special occasions.

Yesterday a lady called that her anniversary is today. Her husband loves fishing, his aquarium and chocolate.She asked how can we make a unique gift for her to give to him.

I said don't worry I have the perfect idea. I showed her our underwater selections as well as our chocolate rocks. I suggested that we create a box of chocolate with the rocks to simulate the gravel and then the fish to represent his aquarium. She loved the idea. So we created it  and here is the picture of the box that she is going to present to her hubby today.

How Sweet!

The candyman and his coolers

It’s hot in Chicago. Most people like the heat I prefer cool and cloudy much easier to transport chocolate. I left the store today with 2 coolers.

At each stop I was asked the question is there beer in there? I always respond sorry how about a chocolate instead. Sometimes I get a yes please other times I get a smile and sometimes I actually get a lead but that is a story for a different day.

The sales calls were for companies looking for corporate holiday gifts. What make our corporate holiday gifts unique is our ability to create chocolates in a variety of shapes that help our customer put their brand into chocolate.

We’ve done bugs, dogs paws, ATMs, and doorbells just to name a few. Today we talked to perspective clients about putting their logos into chocolate and onto boxtops.

I do have a sweet job!

Hello World

My name is David Levine, AKA the candyman my wife and I own a candy store Illinois Nut & Candy in Skokie a suburb of Chicago.  We have a web presence which is Raising The Candy Bar.

Is my life so interesting not sure but people always are asking what is new. I get many jokes about nuts and every variation that you can think of (but being this is a family friendly site use your imagination).
As a business we tweet, facebook, and have a YouTube channel.

My goal for this blog is to give creative ideas for corporate gifts, party favors, gluten free selections, sugar free selections just to name a few. Additionally I want to use this blog to also let our customers know what is new and what is happening in our store like today a customer locked his keys in his car I’d like to say I successfully used the hanger trick but when that did not work I knew who to call to have the door unlocked professionally.

Have a sweet day!