Chicago's Sweet Candy History

The fascinating story of the most infamous healthy carrier of a deadly bacteria in American history.

Holiday Themed Programs

Requirements for most lectures:

Who Was Typhoid Mary?

For many Chicagoans, no Christmas season was complete without a visit to Marshall Field and Co. We'll trace the store's holiday traditions, including the Walnut Room Christmas tree, the window displays, the toy department, and the catalogs. Ever have your photo taken with Santa in Cozy Cloud Cottage? Remember Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly? A fun and fascinating look at one of Chicago's most beloved holiday traditions. (NOTE: This is not the same program as Remembering Marshall Field's. Scroll up for info on that.) 

Chicago's Bygone Department Stores

Since her debut ninety years ago, teen sleuth Nancy Drew has proven that a smart heroine with style and fearlessness can win massive popularity. Explore the history of the Nancy Drew books including the question of who was "Carolyn Keene" and why this series, more than other girls' book series, has captivated generations of readers.

Votes for Women

The 72-Year Struggle for Women's Suffrage

Explore the struggle from 1848 -- when the first call for women's votes was issued at Seneca Falls -- to 1920 when the 19th amendment gave all American women the vote.

Christmas in America from the 1940s through the 1960s meant aluminum trees, department store Santas and cartoon specials on the television. Every kid in the suburbs wanted an Easy Bake Oven, a G.I. Joe or a Slinky. The coolest houses had trees with rotating color wheels. Historian Leslie Goddard explores this optimistic era in a new illustrated lecture, using photographs, advertisements, greeting cards and catalog to explore why this era was a turning point for how we celebrate the holidays.

Midcentury Cuisine: American Food Fads from the 1940s through the 1960s
Nancy Drew: The History of America's Favorite Teen Sleuth

Chicago department stores including Marshall Field’s, Carson Pirie Scott, Sears, Wieboldt’s and Goldblatt’s set new standards for retail innovation, customer services and visual display. Revisit Chicago's fabulous retail emporiums and explore their rise and fall.

The Colorful History of the Little Black Dress

In this illustrated lecture, historian Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., explores the history of this fashion icon. Learn how Chanel helped dissociate black from mourning, how Audrey Hepburn helped establish the LBD; and how it has been reinvented by everyone from Betty Boop to Versace.

Christmas at Marshall Field's


available for 2021

Midcentury Christmas: Fads and Fun from 1945 to 1970

Also Available:

Did you know Cary Grant was supposed to star in It's a Wonderful Life? That the gym-floor-turned-swimming-pool was real? That the movie bombed at the box office? Even if you've seen the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life 150 times, you'll have fun exploring the movie's creation including how the script evolved, how the cast was chosen, and the technical challenges that were overcome. Enjoy rare photographs taken behind-the-scenes and find out what happened to the cast.

America's Sweet Candy History
It's a Wonderful Life:
The Making of a Holiday Classic

She's a household name and her cookbook has sold more than 75 million copies, but who was Betty Crocker? Celebrate the 100th anniversary of America's favorite cook with a look back at her history, from her debut in 1921 through her current reign over one of America's popular food websites.

Explore which First Ladies have ranked highest and lowest (or most in-between) with historians and why. Who do you think was best or worst? Why were some so vilified? And what might the future hold for the role of American First Lady?

Leslie Goddard

For more than 150 years, Marshall Field and Co. reigned as Chicago's leading department store. This talk traces the store's history from 1852 to its demise in 2006 including the store's cherished traditions - the Walnut Room, the legendary window displays, and, of course, Frango Mints. [Based on Goddard's book, Remembering Marshall Field's, Arcadia, 2011.] (PLEASE NOTE: This is not the same as Christmas at Marshall Field's. Scroll down for info on that.)

Can't take a road trip this year? Travel back in time instead to explore the history of the "mother road" that linked Chicago to LA from 1926 to 1985.

Remember Jell-O salads and cheese sprayed out of a can? Take a nostalgic look back at the food innovations and marketing approaches that transformed how we eat. Using classic cookbooks, mass-market advertisements, and family magazines, we'll explore how society and technology shaped American food from the 40s through the 60s.

Betty Crocker
and Her Cookbook That Changed How America Cooks
America's First Ladies:
The Best, the Worst, and the Strangely Forgotten
  • Screen or white wall on which to project slides
  • Projector and laptop, unless arrangements have been made for me to bring mine
  • Table for approx. 20-25 artifacts
  • Microphone (lapel preferred), if needed or desired by presenting organization
Remembering Marshall Field's

Elegant Indulgence:

The History and Rituals of Afternoon Tea

This beautifully illustrated lecture explores the history and elegant artistry of afternoon tea. Learn why afternoon was so popular with the Victorians and Edwardians, what a proper menu includes, and why the custom of afternoon tea remains so enduringly appealing.

For much of its history, Chicago  produced one-third of the nation's candy.  Learn the history behind candies such as Baby Ruth, Snickers, Milk Duds, Tootsie Rolls, Wrigley's Gum, and more, and explore what made Chicago such a powerful location for candymakers. Delicious! [Based on Goddard's book, Chicago's Sweet Candy History]

Remembering Route 66

Dive into the history of America’s favorite candies, from early treats like licorice roots and maple sugar candy through modern Baby Ruths and Hershey bars. We’ll explore the companies and brands that have become American icons and learn how candy evolved from a luxury good into a cheap, everyday snack.