For decades, commuters and tourists have delighted in the mouthwatering smells radiating from the Blommer Chocolate Co.’s factory near the Chicago River downtown.
But following a federal agency’s complaint, the aroma will soon disappear.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently cited the family-run business for alleged clean-air violations, and officials are hurrying to install equipment that will reduce emissions — and stop the smell.
“It’ll start to go away as we put pollution abatement equipment in place,” the company’s vice president, Rick Blommer, told The Associated Press.
The company that makes chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and other products for bulk sale is trying to resolve allegations that its cocoa-crushing process causes air pollution.
Still, the demise of the rich, brownie smell spilling from the 66-year-old Blommer plant will be a bitter loss, said odor researcher Alan Hirsch, head of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.
“Chocolate smells put people in a relaxed state,” said Hirsch, who likened the effect of chocolate vapors on the brain to an antidepressant.
“It’s been shown bad odors increase aggression; pleasant ones make people more docile. So you could say the chocolate smell is a real service to Chicago.”
Smells are a big deal in this city once closely associated with the stench of slaughtered cows and whose very name etymologists say comes from the American Indian words for skunk or onion.
But a pleasant smell to some is pollution to others.
In citing the company earlier this month, the EPA said inhaling the plant’s emissions in high concentrations can harm children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases.
But within smelling range of the factory, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who doesn’t rave about the chocolate aroma.
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