Chicago: The City That Smells of Chocolate

My new city. I could get used to this.

We’re on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s river tour looking at the Willis Tower (which will always be the Sears Tower to me, by the way). And suddenly, the smell is as strong as if I had just walked into Hershey Park: not river pollution, not air smog, but chocolate.

I look around. Maybe there’s a Ghirardelli shop nearby. Maybe there’s a chocolate factory that we’re passing. Maybe it’s obvious. But there is absolutely nothing even remotely related to chocolate anywhere in sight. And I smell it for at least five minutes, powerful as can be.

I tap my older brother, Nick, on the shoulder. He sits in front of me. “Do you smell chocolate chip cookies?” I ask him. “I swear, I can smell it.”

He looks at me like I’m crazy.

But the woman next to me hears and turns to me in excitement. “I smell chocolate chip cookies too!!” She exclaims. “My sister doesn’t smell anything, but I’ve been smelling it all day!”

“It’s delicious!!!” I squeal. We look again for a hot oven baking in the ship’s bar area, or a Mrs. Field’s shop spouting chocolate chip cookie-scented puffs of smoke. There’s nothing there.

Which brings us to our only conclusion: Chicago is, quite simply, the City that Smells of Chocolate.

My new city. I could get used to this.

As a chocolate lover, this is not a bad thing about my new home. I moved here just a few days ago after Marvin was transferred to recruit officers in the area. While he’s out in California for five weeks, I’m on my own to move in and get settled. Except my two brothers and my mom bought flight tickets to arrive in the city the same day that I did, so that they could help me move (and by “move”, that means “sleep on a wood floor and paint the walls since the furniture won’t be here until next week”).

So on Tuesday, we decided to be tourists.

With my momma, taking in the hot sun on the Chicago River

Architecture Foundation Tour: Not to be missed, despite the $35 price tag. Worth every penny.

The Bean in Millennium Park: Strangely popular but fun. Don’t just stand there and look at it. The best part is underneath the bean.

The neighborhoods: Great if you like to walk and window shop. Not so great if it’s 95 degrees and humid as hell.

The express trains: I still haven’t figured them out, and have twice gotten on regular trains that passed my destination (and many other destinations), and boarded express trains that “were making all stops.” ???

The people: Nicer than any city people I’ve ever known. In fact, when Marvin and I first visited Chicago just a couple weeks back while house-hunting, Marvin, the avid “nothing will ever compare to my city” New Yorker, was the first to say– “My God, this place is just like New York – but the people are NICE here!” A strange but comforting conclusion for us both.

That’s our first impression of Chicago. A great city with a lot of love, a weird sense of direction and a knack for food.

Today, my family leaves my new home city and I am on my own to hunt for jobs as I await Marvin’s arrival in 2-3 weeks. So far, the community has treated me well. Chicago is a city that I previously knew little about, except for the fact that everyone who is from there seems to love it. And it’s a hard place not to love. It’s clean, it’s on the water, there’s good public transportation, the people follow you if you drop something and rent is manageable. I could see myself loving it here, too.

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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  1. Hi Beth,

    It’s Kelly! Love your website. What a wonderful concept you have here. As someone who has traveled humbly and in high-end style, I can say that I have enjoyed and learned an incredible amount from my journeys. I look forward to reading more on Go Girl. By the way, there is a reason that Chicago smells like Chocolate. It sounds like you were near west/River West in downtown Chicago. There is a chocolate factory there. Whenever I visit my Aunt Vi who lives in the River North area of downtown, I smell it. Love it!

  2. So THAT’S why!!! Thanks Kelly for the delicious solution!!

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