Sweet and Sour
Chicago’s Ferrara Candy Company and Imerman Angels partner to provide the cancer community with a little sweetness during a sour time.

Ferrara Candy Company has been a Chicago staple since its inception in 1908, and is now the second-largest, non-chocolate candy manufacturing facility in the world. Ferrara creates the candies we grew up on—sweet treats like Laffy Taffy, SweeTARTS, Boston Baked Beans, Red Hots, Butterfinger, Nerds, Crunch—and the iconic Lemonhead.

But to Ferrara, Lemonheads aren’t just a sweet treat that the public knows and loves. Through a partnership with the Chicago charity Imerman Angels, Ferrara donates 200,000 boxes of Lemonheads every year to chemotherapy centers around the United States. For patients, eating Lemonheads aren’t just something to help pass the time during chemotherapy appointments—they’re actually improving the cancer patient experience.

“[Imerman Angels] reached out to us [and] let us know [that] the sweet and tart lemon candies really helped mask the taste of chemotherapy,” says Michael Hazelrig, a brand manager at Ferrara. The unique taste of Lemonheads reduces the common chemo side effect of a metallic aftertaste, which can prevent those undergoing treatment from getting adequate nutrition to keep their fighting bodies and spirits strong. Additionally, cancer patients share that the candy helps lessen the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

“When we heard this, it was a no brainer,” says Hazelrig. “Of course we’ll donate as much as we can and help support Imerman’s mission to aid cancer patients and their families however we can.” Ferrara frequently receives feedback from cancer patients letting them know how they’re making a difference. “[They] let us know how they love this product and how it was something they came to depend on,” says Hazelrig.

Of course we’ll donate as much as we can and help support Imerman’s mission to aid cancer patients and their families however we can.

Ferrara donates the specialty boxed candy to Imerman Angels, branded with the traditional Imerman Angel wings, who then distribute these “alternate medicines”—according to Hazelrig—to chemotherapy treatment facilities around the country. “They really are the angels that go out in the field and get these in the hands of people who need it,” says Hazelrig.

The fact that both Imerman Angels and Ferrara are local Chicago companies is what brought them together. “They were able to make a quick connection with us,” says Hazelrig. “They realized, too, the candies were being used whether we donated them or not. […] The partnership was a natural one at that point, so [we were] happy to do some small part to help support those fighting cancer, and support the mission of Imerman,” says Hazelrig.

In the future, Ferrara hopes to find other ways to support and give back to their community. “We’re honored to partner with Imerman, and we’re very humbled that we can be associated with anybody that’s going through this situation,” begins Hazelrig. “It’s a very humbling experience, [being] able to provide a little bit of sweetness for someone who’s going through such a sour time.”



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