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: 750L

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On February 23, 1896, a candymaker from Austria opened his shop in New York City. His name was Leo Hirschfield. Never heard of him? You’ve probably heard of his work.

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

The wax-paper-wrapped sweet was produced in NYC beginning in 1905. It 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.  

This was at a time before there was A/C and refrigerators. Candy-sellers spent the hot summers trying to sell candies like taffy and marshmallows. They 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.” That's according to “Candy Professor” Samira Kawash. She also authored a book about the history of candy.

The patent linked with the Tootsie Roll-making process describes how Hirschfield achieved that hard-but-not-too-hard texture. It still characterizes the Tootsie Roll today. The Tootsie Roll is a pulled candy. Most pulled candies are “light and porous” after being made. 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 the texture would help it maintain its shape and not melt.

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

Then WWII happened. Food historians remember that conflict as a turning point in the history of processed food. 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. It kept them making candy 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. It had an iconic advertisement. It featured Mr. Owl and friends.

The official Tootsie Roll website says this 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. She wrote this 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 research, Kawash believes that Hirschfield may have been working for the Stern & Saalberg company well before the invention of his signature candy. And she thinks 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

  • Dakotar-bru1
    1/12/2018 - 12:32 p.m.

    People were able to enjoy tootsie rolls in the summer because the Tootsie Roll does not melt. In addition to that the tootsie roll tastes like chocolate to!

  • Davidc-bru2
    1/12/2018 - 01:24 p.m.

    Why people could enjoy Tootsie Rolls in the summer? In the article it states that " In the summer, people enjoyed candy except chocolate. When the Tootsie Roll came around it can't melt in the heat of summer". In conclusion, the Tootsie Roll was on of the only chocolates that didn't melt in the heat

  • kirshaunm-orv
    1/15/2018 - 05:13 p.m.

    Tootsie rolls are enjoyed during the summer months because unlike other candies. Tootsie rolls are chocolate flavored. They aren't made of chocolate. If they were made of chocolate they would've melted in the summer time.

  • SheaE-dec
    1/16/2018 - 01:51 p.m.

    The people were able to enjoy Tootsie Rolls during the summer, because they did not melt like Chocolate.

  • SophiaD-del1
    1/16/2018 - 06:47 p.m.

    This amazing treat called the tootsie roll was invented because it had the chocolate taste but it didn't melt. Then, people during the Great Depression bought the candy because it was cheap and it tasted good. After World War 2, many people ate the candy because that was war-front food. It became a delicious treat that the whole country could enjoy!

  • TristanL-dec
    1/17/2018 - 11:14 a.m.

    The chocolate was very low temperature and cooked for only 2 hours and was shaped then shipped out to the public.

  • AllanM-dec
    1/17/2018 - 12:44 p.m.

    The tootsie Rolls during the summer and it never melted in heat. It also was baked at a low temperature for two hours.

  • Dylang-bru2
    1/17/2018 - 05:38 p.m.

    People could enjoy the tootsie roll in summer because the texture.The tootsie roll also was hard but not too hard.I think the tootsie roll could be enjoyed in summer because it didn’t melt as much as normal chocolate.

  • ADDISONH-vms
    1/17/2018 - 10:44 p.m.

    I didn't realize how big of a back story Tootsie Rolls had I just thought some random guy had just threw it together.

  • sylviemb-buh
    1/18/2018 - 10:35 a.m.

    This is really cool! Tootsie Rolls would be good for the summer because they do not melt, so soldiers could carry lots of them in their pockets. They taste good too!!!!

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