Object of the Month, July 2014
"Hand Fan: Elite Candy Shop"
by curator Philip Mohr
In the heat of the summer, let’s look at what some Des Plaines residents did to stay cool about one hundred years ago. This is a hand fan made from cardboard and wood. The fan itself was a means to stay cool, but the more interesting history is in the advertisement printed on the cardboard.
On one side is a picture of a baby sitting in a tub of water with the faucet pouring water on its head. The baby is eating a large lump of ice cream. A hand fan sits next to the tub along with a glass of water with lemon. A thermometer indicates a high temperature. With an elated smile, the baby says, “What care I how hot it be.” The reverse side reads, “Elite Candy Shop, Ice Cream and Sodas, Fine Confectionery, Stationery and Magazines, Gift Novelties and Greeting Cards, Ellinwood Avenue, Des Plaines, Illinois.” The advertisement is clear, in weather where someone would want a hand fan, the candy shop stood to serve them refreshment. Perhaps you, as a customer, could be as ecstatic as the little baby.
Researching this object is difficult. The donor found the object in a house he bought. He could not tell us anything about its provenance. So we have to do some digging elsewhere in the History Center collections. Based on the fan itself, the Elite Candy Shop existed on Ellinwood in Des Plaines. We have no information on when the store first opened. Looking them up in old street directories yields limited results. It appears in 1917 along with the Echo Sweet Shop in an advertisement for Orange-JooJ. It then appears in the 1924 street directory as a regular listing. No later book includes the Elite Candy Shop.
The two listings give clues that suggest a struggling business. In 1917, the shop did not headline in its only advertisement in the street directory. A brand they sold appeared more important. Elite and Echo had to share some space in favor of promoting the Orange-JooJ drink. In 1924, shows that Elite did not spend any extra money on making their listing stand out like many other businesses. Perhaps this meant that Elite had little money to put into such things. At any rate, it appears that the Elite Candy Shop closed in the mid- or late-1920s.
Do you have more information on the Elite Candy Shop? Please contact the Des Plaines History Center at 847-391-5399 or firstname.lastname@example.org.