Tootsie Rolls were WWII energy bars
Tootsie Rolls were WWII energy bars Tootsie Rolls contain small amounts of cocoa and also an ingredient you might not expect—orange extract. (Matanya/Wikimedia Commons/Apium/flickr)
Tootsie Rolls were WWII energy bars
Lexile: 1110L

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On February 23, 1896, a candymaker from Austria named Leo Hirschfield opened his shop in New York City. Maybe you've never heard of him, but you’ve definitely heard of his work.

As the story goes, in that shop Hirschfield came up with one of the twentieth century’s iconic candies: the humble Tootsie Roll. Not long after, seeing how popular his creation was, he merged with Stern & Saalberg Co. to produce the candies on a bigger scale.

The wax-paper-wrapped sweet, produced in NYC beginning in 1905, was the first candy to solve two confectionery issues: although it had a chocolatey taste, the penny candy didn’t melt, and it was individually wrapped.  

Before A/C and refrigerators, candy-sellers spent the hot summers trying to sell candies like taffy and marshmallows, which could stand some heat without melting. Chocolate, on the other hand, was nothing but a sticky mess in the summer weather. “The genius of Tootsie Roll was to create a summer candy that was a flavor never before seen in summer candies, the flavor of chocolate,” writes “Candy Professor” Samira Kawash, who also authored a book about the history of candy.

The patent associated with the Tootsie Roll-making process describes how Hirschfield achieved that hard-but-not-too-hard texture that still characterizes the Tootsie Roll today. Most pulled candies (which the Tootsie Roll is) are “light and porous” after being made, the patent reads. But the Tootsie Roll was baked at a low temperature for about two hours. Afterwards it would be shaped and packaged. The idea was to give the treat “a peculiar mellow consistency” the patent reads, that would help it maintain its shape and not melt.

The Tootsie Roll, whose recipe is basically the same today, wasn’t that chocolatey. But if you had a craving, it was better than anything else on the market. And it was cheap, an important factor in encouraging candy growth. When the Tootsie Pop came along in the early 1930s, writes Retroland, it quickly became a Depression-era favorite.

Then WWII happened. Food historians remember that conflict as a watershed moment in the history of processed food, and the Tootsie Roll (like other nominally chocolate-flavored rations) was right there on the front lines. This gave the candy company an early form of a government contract, writes the Dodge Legal Group, and kept them manufacturing while the war effort shut down many other confectionaries. It also helped cement American affection for the candy.

After the war, the Tootsie Pop had its moment on early television with the iconic advertisement featuring Mr. Owl and friends.

The official Tootsie Roll website says this is 1970 ad was the first to ask the “How Many Licks” question, but by far not the last.

The candy is still around today, even though many other candies invented around the same time have fallen out of style. One such was Bromangelon Jelly Powder. “Jelly desserts were all the rage at the turn of the century,” writes Kawash in a separate piece. “Jell-O is the only one we remember, but around 1900 you could have your pick of such temptations as Jellycon, Tryphora and Bro-Man-Gel-On.”

Based on her investigations, Kawash believes that Hirschfield may have been working for the Stern & Saalberg company well before the invention of his signature candy, and that he also invented Bro-Man-Gel-On/Bromangelon.

A four-syllable name for “Jello”? No wonder it didn’t stick.

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Why were people able to enjoy Tootsie Rolls during the summer months?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • JosephF-del
    1/13/2018 - 11:22 a.m.

    People were able to enjoy Tootsie Rolls during the summer months. After WWII the Tootsie Roll was no longer a ration which mean't meant that people could eat it. It it now known as a candy.

  • JaidenV-del
    1/13/2018 - 07:19 p.m.

    The tootsie roll was an energy bar used during WWII the candy was created Leo Hirschfield mailing an energy bar Making a big impact on the war, The candy made a big sensation on the world because of taste and energy. Making its remarkable impact on the world.

  • HannahR -del
    1/13/2018 - 10:12 p.m.

    People were able to enjoy Tootsie Rolls during the summer months. It is candy that could be able to not melt and

  • NatalieH-del
    1/14/2018 - 04:29 p.m.

    I would've never thought tootsie rolls would be so popular during the time of World War II. It's also a shock how they still remain a popular treat today, decades later.

  • JuliaA -del
    1/14/2018 - 04:38 p.m.

    My thoughts on the article, "Tootsie Rolls were WW2 energy bars" was very surprising to me! I couldn't believe that this kind of candy filled people's energy in this time period. Today, we still love this chocolate tasting candy!

  • RushB-del
    1/14/2018 - 06:44 p.m.

    I think is it cool how Tootsie Rolls got it's fame. I felt like it was interesting so see how different stages of technology can change the type of food that is popular and ideal. For example because of the less advanced refrigerators you would eat different things in the summer because of the weather.

  • JadeR-del
    1/15/2018 - 11:42 a.m.

    My thoughts on this article are that I actually learned something I never knew. I never knew that Tootsie Rolls were used as chocolate-flavored rations. I also didn't know that Tootsie Rolls didn't really melt like other candies. Although to be honest I am not really a candy person, but the history of Tootsie Rolls is pretty interesting.

  • PriscillaD-del
    1/15/2018 - 11:59 a.m.

    I thought it was very interesting to hear the backstory of how Tootsie Rolls became famous. This candy is still very iconic and is still enjoyed by many today. I also thought it was interesting that these Tootsie Roll candies didn't melt in hot summers, unlike other chocolate sweets.

  • JohnB-del1
    1/15/2018 - 01:26 p.m.

    tootsie rolls were invented rations during WW11. After the war ended people were allowed to eat tootsie rolls.

  • CherM-del
    1/15/2018 - 03:02 p.m.

    The history of the Tootsie roll is quite surprising, the candy was invented by Leo Hirschfield in 1896 and sold in his shop in New York. The candy was a perfect substitute for chocolate during the summer months. It was very popular and a candy favorite during the Great Depression and WWII.

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