Advent calendars 2021: Made in Illinois – Chicago Tribune Leave a comment

The idea for a new advent calendar consisting of 12 or 24 days of snacks from some of the Chicago area’s beloved local retailers came from an unexpected source — Wisconsin.
Theresa Nemetz, who founded Milwaukee Food & City Tours in 2008, created the popular holiday countdown items featuring delectables from the Milwaukee area just last year.
She said the idea was a lifeline for her company.
“We’ve been offering tours in Milwaukee for 15 years now, and the Advent box was our pandemic pivot that quite honestly saved our entire company after a 100% revenue loss thanks to the (COVID-19) pandemic,” Nemetz wrote in an email to the Tribune.
The Wisconsin calendars sold out quickly in 2020, providing revenue for Nemetz, her team and also the small business owners whose goods were tucked behind each of the doors.
Nemetz said these sales also helped provide the funding for her company to purchase Chicago Food Tours earlier this year and relaunch tours in the city.
That’s when she decided to expand the holiday-themed boxes to Illinois and other Midwest states. She’s hired 86 temporary employees and rented a ballroom in suburban Milwaukee where orders are packed and shipped out.
“Our goal is to take this concept national in 2022, which is why we are also testing out Minnesota and Michigan boxes,” Nemetz said.
Here’s a look at a variety of Advent calendars — including those made by Nemetz — featuring beer, food and candy made by local purveyors. They are listed in order of price, from lowest to highest.
Some are available in limited quantities and could sell out, so plan accordingly.
The iconic milk chocolate mint candy made famous by Marshall Field’s and now owned by Garrett Brands is hidden by a whimsical gingerbread house design. Available at Macy’s stores throughout the Chicago area and online. macys.com
The taste and design of this Advent calendar hearkens back to yesteryear. The vintage photo shows a throwback facade of the candy store’s kitchen on 3rd Street in downtown Geneva, where it opened in 1987. Graham’s founder, Bob Untiedt, died in March, but his traditional chocolates and truffles are featured in this box as are new items specially made just for this calendar — including homemade salted caramels, nut clusters, mini ooey gooey bars, and chocolate-dipped crispy treats. Available at Graham’s store, 302 S. 3rd St., Geneva; 119 W. Front St., Wheaton; grahamschocolate.com
Snowman, snowflake, mitten, ornament, stocking and Christmas tree shapes made of solid milk chocolate appear in the first Advent calendar produced by the candy-maker. Available in store, 114 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove; longgroveconfectionery.com
What flavor marshmallow awaits you? Need a hint? This Advent calendar offers one behind each door. It could be a legacy flavor — lavender honey, vanilla or butterbeer — or one of 18 different tastes made just for this box. Think Coke float, maple pancake, eggnog and ube. 6977 Sheridan Road, xomarshmallow.com
Among the 24, 16-ounce cans from four breweries — Around the Bend Beer Co., Burnt City Brewing, Bold Dog Beer Co. and Casa Humilde Cerveceria — are well-known craft beers, seasonal brews and limited-edition ales. Each day’s brew in this third-annual edition beer Advent calendar is unique. Reserve online for pickup only Thanksgiving week — Nov. 23-28 during business hours. 417 N. Ashland Ave., districtbrewyards.com
Twenty four unique, one-off brews — not available elsewhere — from 24 local breweries fill the Illinois Beer craft beer Advent calendar.
Not into beer? The cider, seltzer and mead Sleigh Advent calendar offers 24 unique options from 24 purveyors. Looking for a gift for friends or co-workers? Order five or more boxes of either kind and get a discount.
Reserve both boxes online and schedule pickup date and location during purchase. No shipping available. There are 20 locations, most charging an extra $8 fee due to delivery costs. loditaphouse.com
Open the birch wood-inspired box to reveal 24 distinct craft beers — from 24 different Illinois breweries, including Brickstone Brewery, Empirical Brewery, Forbidden Root, Sketchbook Brewing and more. The compact design includes two 12-packs, which can be placed in the refrigerator individually or separated for gifting purposes — one for me, one for you. Available for pickup only. 3357 N. Lincoln Ave., bitterpops.com
Pop open the beer hiding behind door No. 1 on Dec. 1 and give a virtual cheers to all who do the same — for every box contains the same 12- or 16-ounce craft brew for all 24 days. And none repeat. In case you’re bummed when you reach the end of the calendar, there’s a 10% off coupon redeemable for the week leading up to the new year. Reserve online; available for pickup only. 7101 W. 183rd St., Tinley Park; 16437 W. 159th St., Lockport; shop.theopenbottle.com
Exotic chocolates, luxurious caramels, decadent marshmallows and adorable animals and gnomes await inside each drawer of this Advent calendar with a design that is an homage to Place des Vosges in Paris, where chocolatier Katrina Markoff lived while studying culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. The flavor combinations — like sea salt and organic burnt sugar caramel wrapped inside a dark chocolate bonbon — just might make you reconsider gifting this box to anyone but yourself. 2950 N. Oakley Ave., O’Hare International Airport Terminal 3; vosgeschocolate.com
The Delicious Illinois option offers 24 days of snacks — salty, sweet and spreadable — to enjoy this holiday season. Warm up with Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate, coffee and tea, too. Locals will recognize chocolates from Anderson’s Candy Shop, Katherine Anne’s, Long Grove Confectionery, Morke’s Chocolates and Twisted Cookie.
If 24 days of treats sounds too decadent, then try the 12 Days of Chicago gift box that features snacks from Blake’s Seed Bars, Completely Nuts, Katherine Anne’s Confections, Morke’s Chocolates, Terry’s Toffee and Twisted Cookie. Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate, coffee from Metropolis Coffee, deep dish pizza seasoning and an ornament from Em + Me Studios are also tucked inside.
Both boxes can be ordered online. deliciousfooddelivered.com
Big screen or home stream, takeout or dine-in, Tribune writers are here to steer you toward your next great experience. Sign up for your free weekly Eat. Watch. Do. newsletter here.
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