“We started the holiday because we know Fannie May has been part of so many families’ traditions, whether it’s birthdays or anniversaries, since 1920,” said Jennifer Peterson, the director of retail marketing at Fannie May.
“Summer time is the best time in Chicago… so we decided to have an event celebrating summer with one of our best-selling confections, Pixies,” she said.
Pecans are ‘central’ to American confections
As part of the celebration, Fannie May invited its master chocolatier Elliott Callahan to demonstrate the chocolate-making process in-store on Michigan Avenue.
The showcased products are limited edition circle-shaped caramel dipped in roasted pecans and milk chocolate.
“We roasted pecans with olive oil and a little bit of sea salt to give the nuts a bolder taste and a bit more contrast between the caramel and chocolate,” Callahan told ConfectioneryNews.
Fannie May has been traditionally selling mixed nuts products in retail, including boxed cashews, pecans, peanuts and almonds. However, Callahan noted pecans are “central” to US confectionery products.
“Pecans are uniquely American because they only grow in the southeastern part of the US and parts of Texas. Pecans have been a mainstay in American confections for over a century. A lot of traditional confectioners have made something similar to Pixies and many of them are derived out of the New Orleans-styled pralines,” he said.
Callahan added there is an increasing amount of candy companies adopting nuts in their products because of their health benefits. “Consumers are getting more health-conscious, and nuts are perfect for both indulgent and healthy snacking,” he said.
Partnership with Ferrero
Fannie May was snatched by Ferrero last year from its original owner 1-800-Flowers for $115m, this site previously reported. Since then, the e-commerce retailer has created a new gifting confections platform Simply Chocolate.
Peterson noted Fannie May has gained good insights on quality control via its partnership with the Italian chocolate giant.
“We’re working throughout the Ferrero organization to really learn about trends and different chocolate-making methods,” she said.
It’s noted that Ferrero also opened its first Nutella Café in Chicago, which is only two blocks away from the Fannie May store on Michigan Avenue. When asked if there is any cooperation between these two shops, Peterson said, “we’re simply two Chicago landmarks right now without any connections.
“We’re very proud that the Nutella Café is the first in the country, and Ferrero is opening another one in New York fairly soon,” she said.