lagoIn the northwestern part of Illinois known as the Quad Cities lies a little bit of sweet history – Lagomarcino’s, one of the last soda-candy confectioneries in the nation. Since 1908, Lagomarcino’s has been a staple to Moline. From their own homemade ice cream to the famous soda fountain follies, it’s no wonder this place is so well loved that it opened their second location right across the river in Davenport, Iowa.

For more than 110 years, the confectionery has been making chocolates, candy, and homemade ice cream. Currently, the store has been passed down four generations within the Lagomarcino family and is still using the same original copper kettle kitchen at the original Moline location.

The story begins with Angelo Lagomarcino emigrating from Italy in the late 1800s. After getting married, he worked in Burlington, Iowa, with his brother Carl, and in 1908 Angelo decided Moline was the best location to have his own business. He created a wide array of fine chocolates, sundaes, and malts that are still on the menu to this day.

The family run store has also won a number of awards, including the prestigious James Beard Foundation America’s Classic Award in 2006. This award is given out to only a handful of owned restaurants that have a “timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community.” Since the creation of the institution, they have gone on to serve more than just sweet treats and have a whole menu of classic American food.

According to their website, they plan to keep going on for at least another 100 years or more. A little piece of Americana that is still prevalent to this day is a feat on its own. Every major holiday has specialty themed sweets and items crafted upon the day of celebration – from candy apples to deliciously made Christmas tree chocolates, this spot is definitely one to check out in Illinois!

giftsBreak out the eggnog and Mariah Carey, the holiday season is approaching. Shopping for friends and loved ones can be daunting, and ideas might be hard to come by. However, stumped shoppers need worry no more! The 2022 Illinois Made Holiday Gift Guide has been released, and contains many special and wonderful gift ideas, which were made right here in Illinois. Gift givers can get ready for the holiday season while also shopping locally and supporting Illinois businesses. The Gift Guide showcases unique gifts, organizes them by categories, such as gifts for him or her, and includes links to where the items can be bought, making it an easy and simple tool for shoppers. Gifts on the list include a range of prices and themes, so anyone can find something within their price range that will suit the person they are shopping for.

Those shopping for people with a sweet tooth can find such items as the Ultimate S’mores Kit from Swoon Living in Chicago or gourmet chocolates from Cocoa Blue Chocolates in Rochester. Friends of coffee lovers can get seasonal roasts from Brewpoint Coffee in Elmhurst. Shoppers looking for gifts for relaxation and self-care can buy things such as handcrafted soy candles from Bright Endeavors in Chicago. Gift givers who want a more personal or artistic touch can buy framed prints, puzzles or snow globes from River Bend Gallery in Galena.

If you are interested in the full list of one-of-a-kind gift ideas from Illinois, visit here.

Ferrero ChocolateThis week, the North American chocolate company Ferrero announced an expansion of its chocolate plant in Bloomington. Ferrero will invest up to $214.4 million in expanding its chocolate processing and production right here in Illinois.

The chocolate company announced its new expansion that will add 169,000 square feet to its current plant and is dedicated to producing Kinder Bueno, a popular Ferrero premium chocolate bar. This expansion hopes to bring more than 200 jobs to Bloomington within the next four years. Construction on the new plant will begin this fall and is expected to be complete in 2024.   

Ferrero, a business operating since 1946, has had a long history of producing sweets in the United States. Ferrero is famously known for their hazelnut spread Nutella. Throughout its years of operation, it has acquired companies and brands from Fannie May in Chicago, to Nestle plants for Baby Ruth and Butterfinger, and several others.

The new Kinder Bueno production facility is an expansion of the existing plant in the Ferrero Bloomington manufacturing center, which is also under an expansion process for the chocolate Crunch, 100Grand, Raisinets, and other Ferrero products.

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Movie theater seats and screenLincoln Theater in downtown Belleville observed its 100-year anniversary this year. Established in 1921, the theater has entertained locals for a century, offering silent films, black-and-white movie reels, and the masterpieces that shake box offices today.

Located on 103 E. Main St., the Lincoln Theater is owned by Dave and Sandy Schoenborn after Sandy’s father, Richard Wright, bought the business in 1980 and ran it with his wife, Betty. The Schoenborn family took over management in 2007. The family will celebrate the Lincoln’s 100th anniversary with “A Century of Entertainment,” a variety show with music, dance and theater reflecting the 1920s through today. It will be performed on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. This show will also be live-streamed. More information about the event and its live stream can be found here.

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Shelf filled with products inside glass jars The Illinois Office of Tourism has announced a list of new additions to the Illinois Made program, which recognizes businesses classified as hidden gems for locals and visitors to discover. The businesses highlighted by this initiative, called Makers, are recognized because they offer unique products and experiences to their customers and passersby.

The Illinois Made program, which now features over 200 Makers from all parts of Illinois, continues to plant people into small businesses around the state by promoting the unique destinations that make the state a one-of-a-kind place. Some of the products offered by Makers include music shops, art galleries, bakeries, farms and more.

The new round of Makers provides visitors with a range of vegan desserts, crafts, candles, general wares and other products that diversify and improve the lives of people across the state. This class of Makers includes 28 small businesses from every region of the state and comes just in time for the holiday shopping season. While the majority of these 28 Makers reside in the Chicago area, a healthy handful are sprinkled in the northwest, central and southern parts of Illinois.

The IOT celebrates Illinois Makers through its road trip itineraries, which run along paths created to endorse these local businesses. The IOT also operates Enjoy Illinois through which travel magazines, events, seasonal campaigns and the annual Illinois Made Holiday Gift Guide can be found. People can nominate businesses for the Illinois Made Program on a year-round basis here. Nominations are open to all businesses, but chosen businesses must adhere to criteria regarding location, visitor experience, manufacture process and history or origin.

The contributions made by Makers shape the state. Because Makers reflect a variety of business types—restaurants, breweries and wineries, farms and orchards, and even international markets that have humble beginnings as small businesses in Illinois—the artisan nature of the state facilitates visitor attraction and boosts tourist activity. Celebrating these contributions is one of many ways to support local businesses. Discover the many available experiences in every region of the state here.