Cover for Beck: Sweet Greeks: First-Generation Immigrant Confectioners in the Heartland. Click for larger image

Sweet Greeks

First-Generation Immigrant Confectioners in the Heartland

Making candy--and a new life--in the Midwest

Gus Flesor came to the United States from Greece in 1901. His journey led him to Tuscola, Illinois, where he learned the confectioner's trade and opened a business that still stands on Main Street. Sweet Greeks sets the story of Gus Flesor's life as an immigrant in a small town within the larger history of Greek migration to the Midwest.

Ann Flesor Beck's charming personal account recreates the atmosphere of her grandfather's candy kitchen with its odors of chocolate and popcorn and the comings-and-goings of family members. "The Store" represented success while anchoring the business district of Gus's chosen home. It also embodied the Midwest émigré experience of chain migration, immigrant networking, resistance and outright threats by local townspeople, food-related entrepreneurship, and tensions over whether later generations would take over the business.

An engaging blend of family memoir and Midwest history, Sweet Greeks tells how Greeks became candy makers to the nation, one shop at a time.

"This remarkable story is both unique and universal. It is the story of tenacious immigrant entrepreneurs overcoming enormous odds to find that sweet spot, making candy that would become a permanent feature of American daily life."--Ken Albala, author of Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession

"The value of Sweet Greeks rests in its recovery of the names and personal stories of immigrant confectioners operating candy stores in small, Midwestern towns. Once an important niche for Greek entrepreneurs, candy stores also provided community spaces. Then they disappeared. Could their revival breathe life into rural communities?"--Donna Gabaccia, coauthor of Gender and Migration: From the Slavery Era to the Global Age

"Ann Flesor Beck brings to life the workings of chain migration and networking with vivid stories of the newcomers who worked strategically to found the once-ubiquitous soda fountains of the small-town midwest. Embedded in the history of southeastern European immigration, nativist American prejudice, and immigrant persistence, she offers a revelatory view of immigrant generations that serves us well today." --Leslie Page Moch, author of Broad Is My Native Land: Repertoires and Regimes of Migration in Russia’s Twentieth Century

Publication of this book was supported in by the Friends of the University of Illinois Press.


Ann Flesor Beck is a third-generation Greek confectioner and independent scholar. With her sister, she co-owns and operates Flesor's Candy Kitchen in Tuscola, Illinois.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/47pfz8cn9780252043406.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Migrant Marketplaces - Cover
Migrant Marketplaces

Food and Italians in North and South America

Elizabeth Zanoni

Baking Powder Wars - Cover
Baking Powder Wars

The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking

Linda Civitello

The Chicago Food Encyclopedia - Cover
The Chicago Food Encyclopedia

Edited by Carol Mighton Haddix, Bruce Kraig, and Colleen Taylor Sen

Table Talk - Cover
Table Talk

Building Democracy One Meal at a Time

Janet A. Flammang

Local Vino - Cover
Local Vino

The Winery Boom in the Heartland

James R. Pennell

Polish American Studies - Cover
Polish American Studies

Edited by Anna D. Jaroszynska-Kirchmann

From Gluttony to Enlightenment - Cover
From Gluttony to Enlightenment

The World of Taste in Early Modern Europe

Viktoria von Hoffmann

The Taco Truck - Cover
The Taco Truck

How Mexican Street Food Is Transforming the American City

Robert Lemon

Taste of the Nation - Cover
Taste of the Nation

The New Deal Search for America's Food

Camille Bégin

Noodle Soup - Cover
Noodle Soup

Recipes, Techniques, Obsession

Ken Albala

The Banquet - Cover
The Banquet

Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe

Ken Albala