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By: Brenda Torres

There are a lot odd smells in Chicagochocolate, sewage, popcorn, etc. but one of them originates to the founding Chicago.  In fact, one odor is why our city is named Chicago. The city is named after a wild onion plant.  “The Indian word “Shikako” or “Skunk place” is recognized as the origin of the name “Chicago”, this name having reference to some native wild onion,”  according to H. A. Allard, in the journal of Castanea. The area of Chicago had a richness of the wild onions during its exploration period.

Back when the steel mills were a booming industry, many neighborhoods from the Southeast smelled like Sulphur because of Wisconsin Steel, U.S. Steel, and ACME Coke Plant.  These foul smells no longer exist because of the industries closing in the 1980s.

Prior to the 1970s, a particularly smelly smell came from the Union Stockyards due to the slaughtering of animals.  The smell even reached the areas in the Loop. The Union Stockyards were located in the neighborhood of Back of the Yards and closed in 1971.  In fact, “The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair is a novel about the Union Stockyards, the conditions of its employees and it mentions the foul powerful smells of the yards in 1906.

Chicago’s present-day smells depend on which direction the wind is blowing.  One of the sweet smells is Garrets Popcorn, which first opened on West Madison and has locations all over the city. The sweet, caramel scent is detectable from blocks away.

There are also a number of candy factories in Chicago, another source of that sweet, candy smell. That distinct chocolate scent comes from companies such as Mars Incorporated on North Side, Tootsie Roll on the South Side, and the newest to Chicago, Blommer Chocolate Co. on the West Side.  Other sweet smells are from the companies that produce Lemon Heads and Wrigley’s Gum. Depending on where the Chicagoan lives depends on which smell they will get in their surrounding air.


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