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

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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

  • shelbyr-lars
    1/18/2018 - 12:52 p.m.

    They were able to enjoy them because they didn't melt from the heat like chocolate or taffy and had a great taste.

  • John-E2
    1/18/2018 - 02:15 p.m.

    I think that it is cool that they yoused totsy rols as energy and I piked this because we were lerning about ww1.

  • Angelt-bru1
    1/18/2018 - 03:10 p.m.

    People were able to enjoy Tootsie Rolls, because they did not melt like chocolate. Another reason was they were cooked at a very low temperature. Also because before they invented AC and refrigerators people would sell candy outside and the chocolate couldn´t stand the heat so they found out that tootsie rolls would.

  • cheyl-orv
    1/18/2018 - 05:30 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.

  • DIANAR-vms
    1/18/2018 - 11:05 p.m.

    I really like this article because it was very interesting that they used this candy as energy for WWII and the candy wouldn’t melt in the heat.

  • Maryr-bru1
    1/19/2018 - 09:36 a.m.

    People were aloud to enjoy these delicious Tootsie Rolls because this tasty treat doesn't melt. In the summer we all love eating are tasty treats when we are doing are summer activities ,but most of our treats melt such as Ice cream,frozen yogurt,chocolate treats and way more. Tootsie Rolls texture is not messy or sticky so it doesn't melt so on those hot summer days you can enjoy these treats.

  • Carters-eic
    1/19/2018 - 10:32 a.m.

    Thats crazy! It actually helped them. It didn't melt in the summer

  • Elijahj-eic
    1/19/2018 - 10:36 a.m.

    This was a great article. I think its crazy it didn't melt in the summer. And I did not think they've been around so long.

  • Bethk-eic
    1/19/2018 - 10:44 a.m.

    I found it interesting that WW ll people ate Tootsie Roll Lollipops

  • Elliep-eic
    1/19/2018 - 10:49 a.m.

    This passage was very interesting. I never knew that tootsie rolls were energy bars.

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