In 1921, the Curtiss Candy Company refashioned its Kandy Kake into the Baby Ruth. The bar was a staple of the Chicago-based company for some seven decades. Curtiss was purchased by Nabisco in 1981. In 1990, RJR Nabisco sold the Curtiss brands to Nestlé.
Although the name of the candy bar sounds like the name of the famous baseball player Babe Ruth, the Curtiss Candy Company traditionally claimed that it was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. The candy maker, located on the same street as Wrigley Field, named the bar "Baby Ruth" in 1921, as Babe Ruth's fame was on the rise, over 30 years after Cleveland had left the White House, and 17 years after his daughter, Ruth, had died. The company did not negotiate an endorsement deal with Ruth, and many saw the company's story about the origin of the name to be a devious way to avoid having to pay the baseball player any royalties. Curtiss successfully shut down a rival bar that was approved by, and named for, Ruth, on the grounds that the names were too similar.
In the trivia book series Imponderables, David Feldman reports the standard story about the bar being named for Grover Cleveland's daughter, with additional information that ties it to the President: "The trademark was patterned exactly after the engraved lettering of the name used on a medallion struck for the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and picturing the President, his wife, and daughter Baby Ruth." He also cites More Misinformation, by Tom Burnam: "Burnam concluded that the candy bar was named ... after the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Williamson, candy makers who developed the original formula and sold it to Curtiss." (Williamson had also sold the "Oh Henry!" formula to Curtiss around that time.) The writeup goes on to note that marketing the product as being named for a company executive's granddaughter would likely have been less successful, hence their "official" story.
However, David Mikkelson of Snopes.com denies the claim that the Williamsons invented the recipe, as Mr. George Williamson was head of the Williamson Candy Company, producers of the Oh Henry! bar. He continues to say that "the Baby Ruth bar came about when Otto Schnering, founder of the Curtiss Candy Company, made some alterations to his company's first candy offering, a confection known as 'Kandy Kake.'"
As if to tweak their own official denial of the name's origin, after Babe Ruth's Called Shot at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series, Curtiss installed an illuminated advertising sign for Baby Ruth on the roof of one of the flats across Sheffield Avenue, near where Ruth's home run ball had landed in center field. The sign stood for some four decades before being removed.
In 1995, a company representing the Ruth estate licensed his name and likeness for use in a Baby Ruth marketing campaign.
On p. 34 of the spring, 2007, edition of the Chicago Cubs game program, there is a full-page ad showing a partially unwrapped Baby Ruth in front of the Wrigley ivy, with the caption, "The official candy bar of major league baseball, and proud sponsor of the Chicago Cubs."
Continuing the baseball-oriented theme, during the summer and post-season of the 2007 season, a TV ad for the candy bar showed an entire stadium (played by Dodger Stadium) filled with people munching Baby Ruths, and thus having to hum rather than singing along with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.
Original flavor U.S. edition, listed by weight in decreasing order: sugar, roasted peanuts, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm kernel and coconut oil, nonfat milk, cocoa, high-fructose corn syrup and less than 1% of glycerin, whey (from milk), dextrose, salt, monoglyceride, soy lecithin, soybean oil, natural and artificial flavors, carrageenan, TBHQ, citric acid (to preserve freshness) and caramel color.
In addition to the single 2.1-ounce (59.5-gram) bar (sold in packages as Full Size), Baby Ruth is also sold in a 3.7-ounce King Size, and in packages of Fun Size and Miniatures.
Baby Ruth ice cream bar
Baby Ruth Crisp
Nestlé also produces Baby Ruth Crisp bars, which are chocolate-covered wafer cookies, with a caramel-flavored cream and crushed peanuts. This is part of a line of Nestlé products under the Crisp name, including Nestlé Crunch Crisp and Butterfinger Crisp.
The Baby Ruth bar is infamously featured in a scene in the movie Caddyshack when, during a pool party, two youths outside the pool are fighting over a Baby Ruth bar, when it slips into the pool with its wrapper off. Thinking someone had defecated in the pool due to the bar's resemblance to human feces, everyone makes a mad scramble out of the pool. When Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) is cleaning out the pool afterward and recognizes it as a Baby Ruth bar, he takes a bite out of it, much to the disgust of the owners of the country club (played by Ted Knight and Lois Kibbee), who still believe it to be feces.
Baby Ruth was also used in the American film The Goonies by Chunk to befriend Sloth and eventually save the day.
In the movie Hellboy, a Baby Ruth bar is used to lure and mollify the infant Hellboy when he is discovered after the destruction of the Nazi portal.
- Richardson, Tim (2003). Sweets: A History of Candy. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1582343075.
- Zeldes, Leah A. (2011-06-27). "Named for slugger or president's kid, candy is Chicago's baby". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- Case of George H. Ruth Candy Co. v. Curtiss Candy Co, 49 F.2d 1033 (1931), Urban Legends Reference Pages: Baby Ruth
- What Are Hyenas Laughing At, Anyway? (1995), p. 84.
- How Do Astronauts Scratch an Itch? (1996), p. 288-289.
- Do Elephants Jump? (2004), p. 264-265.
- Sandomir, Richard (June 6, 2006). "Baseball adopts a candy, whatever it is named for - Business - International Herald Tribune". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
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