Smarties, M&M’s, Hershey Kisses, and Jelly Beans– these are just a few of the classic candies that have been loved by many throughout the years. There is one candy however that had an early start and rolled right into the hearts of Americans in the year 1896. That classic candy is the Tootsie Rolls, which was introduced on this very day.
Tootsie Rolls are a chocolate taffy candy that are like caramel and taffy, but not put directly into either one of those categories. These little log-type candies are ideal because, not only are they delicious, but during the hot US summers they do not melt during transport.
121 years ago, on February 23rd, Leo Hirschfield, a son of an Austrian candy maker started working in a small New York candy shop called the Stern & Staalberg company. During his time at the candy shop, he decided that he wanted a candy that tasted like chocolate, but could also withstand heat. He first came up with the concept while looking through his family’s candy recipes. The name Tootsie Rolls then came along after he decided that the best name for this candy was after his daughter Clara, who he sometimes called “Tootsie.”
These small hand-wrapped candies were then sold only by Stern & Staalberg for a penny up until 1907. In 1907, Leo decided to patent his unique textured candy, so that it could be manufactured and sold throughout the United States. He was granted the patent the following year, and Stern & Staalberg immediately started marketing and advertising the small candy.
Hirschfield grew to be VP of the company, and the company’s name later changed to Sweets Company of America in 1917. In the following years, after the departure of Stern and Staalberg, Leo felt like the newer and younger management was outranking him, but he was still a part of the company until 1920 when he left. There is no record on what led to his leaving, but many say he resigned and others say that he was fired. Leo eventually committed suicide after trying and failing to start his own small candy shop in 1922 after it went bankrupt.
After the death of Hirschfield, the company that owned Tootsie Rolls kept falling on hard times, especially during war, until Bernard D. Rubin took over the company. During Rubin’s reign as president of Sweets Company of America, the company increased its sales twelve-fold. In 1966, the company adopted the new name Tootsie Roll Industries and since then has become one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world. They produce more than 64 million Tootsie Rolls a day.
Today, Tootsie Rolls are still an American favorite and have become favorite candies of people throughout the world. Along with the classic Tootsie Roll, there has since been added the Tootsie Pop, Fruity Tootsie Rolls, Dots, and many other favorites. If it wasn’t for that day 121 years when Leo Hirschfield began working in the candy shop, the world may never have been introduced to this one of a kind candy.