How sweet it is: Delivering treats to Mexican candy store via intermodal

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Dec 13, 2023

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3 mins.

How sweet it is: Delivering treats to Mexican candy store via intermodal

Year-round, candy and colorful piñatas line the floor-to-ceiling windows at Dulcelandia, a candy store in Chicago’s Little Village community. The treats are especially significant around the holidays, when the entire neighborhood is filled with bright lights, magical sounds and immersive scents of the season.  

Long before the goodies are displayed as candy towers or on the shelves of Dulcelandia, the largest retailer and wholesaler of Mexican candy in the Midwest, their journey begins in Guadalajara, Toluca and Guanajuato, Mexico. Annually, more than 50 containers move north to Chicago via intermodal shipping, a combination of truck and rail, in this case with trucking by J.B. Hunt Transport Services and rail by BNSF. Dulcelandia’s freight passes through our Corwith Intermodal Facility, pictured below.

Dulcelandia, which translates to “candy land” in English, was founded by Eduardo Rodriguez and his wife, Evelia,who began importing candy and piñatas soon after North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passed in 1994. The process to import products from Mexico was complicated as they navigated U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection regulations, but they persevered. Today, the company includes a wholesale operation along with five Chicagoland locations. 

“I import nostalgia in the form of sweet and spicy candy as well as piñatas,” said Rodriguez, who immigrated to the U.S. in the ’70s. He and Evelia began their entrepreneurial journey, first by opening Mexican supermarkets and later by importing confectionary items from Mexico. 

“The familiar flavors and the feeling of home are what I was after when we opened,” he said. “My family and I enjoy knowing that Dulcelandia has become the place people visit to experience a little bit of home. Sharing that comforting experience with our children and grandchildren is rewarding.” 

Colorful piñatas arrive in a container for Dulcelandia.
Colorful piñatas arrive in a container for Dulcelandia.

Today, the family-operated stores offer a variety of more than 1,000 Mexican and American confectionary products. In December, piñatas are especially popular for Posada celebrations, the re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. More than 3,000 piñatas arrive during the month.  

The Rodriguez family plans to keep the tradition going for future generations. 

“Dulcelandia has been my entire life, and as the youngest of four siblings keeping it going for the next generation was personal for me,” said Marco Rodriguez, senior vice president. “Our stores have become a staple in many communities where we hire locally, and I feel there is so much cultural pride among our team because many feel that Dulcelandia is a part of them, and we all want to keep our culture and traditions alive and well for years to come.”  

The largest warehouse store is in Chicago’s Little Village, known as “Mexico of the Midwest,” a community overflowing with vibrant culture and cuisine. It’s a place where residents and visitors alike can spend the day exploring the many local retail shops, traditional bakeries, authentic family-owned restaurants, and flourishing arts scene. Little Village is also home to a 2-mile-long commercial corridor, 26th Street, often referred to as the second Magnificent Mile because of its highest-grossing shopping and tax revenue in the city after Michigan Avenue. 

Check out Dulcelandia, whose treats are proudly brought to market by BNSF and J.B. Hunt, which are collaborating along with GMXT, the largest rail provider in Mexico, to provide a new intermodal service. Together, we’ve got your sweet tooth and cross-border transportation covered.   

Dulcelandia photo by Jose Torres/NN Photographer 

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