Time for Tootsie
by Laurnie Wilson
Oh, Tootsie. You’re somethin’ else, aren’t you? All chocolatey and creamy, yet somehow resistant to heat so you don’t melt all over the place. How did you get to be so cool anyway? If these are questions you’ve been asking the famed Tootsie Roll, then you’re in luck ‘cause we’re about to tell you all about this sweet treat’s past.
A Tootsie Roll Tradition
You’ve probably been eating Tootsie Rolls since you were a kid. But did you know that your parents and your grandparents have been too? Actually, Tootsie Rolls have been around for over a century! It’s true. The first kids to take a bite of this chewy chocolate goodness were around all the way back in 1896.
Invented by Austrian immigrant Leo Hirschfeld, Tootsie Rolls were a more convenient alternative to chocolate, which had a tendency to melt in the heat. This isn’t the first time we’ve read about candy innovations being rooted in the temperature. Who knew the heat rang such a loud death bell for chocolates?
A Roll By Any Other Name
Regardless of the temperature, Tootsie Rolls were a great success, finding a niche as the first individually wrapped penny candy! They were especially popular with the youth, a suitable audience since the candy was named after Hirschfeld’s daughter, Clara “Tootsie” Hirschfeld.
Tootie’s Military Stripes
But they weren’t just kiddie treats. Over time, Tootsie Rolls became popular in the military as well! Can you guess why? We’ll let you in on a little secret: it has something to do with Tootsie Roll’s uncanny ability to withstand almost any environment. So they’re perfect for field rations. Nothing like a little taste of home when you’re overseas, right?
Speaking of which, Tootsies made quite an entrance during the Korean War. In 1950, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, the Marine Corps began running out of mortar rounds. Coincidentally, the code name for mortar rounds at the time was Tootsie Rolls. So, when radiomen asked for additional mortar rounds to be delivered, one rather uninformed supply specialist thought the Marines were actually asking for the candy. So when the “mortar rounds” were dropped off two days later, the troops opened the boxes to find hundreds of Tootsie Rolls…instead of ammunition! What a delicious disaster that must have been!
Tootsie Rolls On
Today, 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made daily. Now, that’s quite a mouthful! One component of the original recipe, which is still used today, is the inclusion of some of the previous day’s batch. So when you take a bite of a Tootsie Roll, you’re biting into decades of sweet tradition.