In 1896 its founder Leo Hirshfeld, an Austrian immigrant to the United States of America, started his candy business in a small shop located in New York City. He wanted a chewy candy that would not melt easily in the heat, and would be an economical artificial alternative to traditional chocolates. He named the candy after the nickname of his daughter, Clara "Tootsie" Hirschfeld. By 1905, production moved to a five-story factory. In 1917, the name of the company was changed to The Sweets Company of America, and the business became a listed company in 1922. In 1931, the Tootsie Pop—a lollipop with Tootsie Roll filling—was invented. Its low price made it popular in the Depression era. During World War II, Tootsie Rolls became a standard part of American soldiers' field rations, due to the hardiness of the candy under a variety of environmental conditions.
In 1935, the company was in serious difficulty. Concerned about the possible loss of an important customer, its principal supplier of paper boxes, Joseph Rubin & Sons of Brooklyn, became interested in the possibility of acquiring control. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but Bernard D. Rubin acquired a list of shareholders and approached them in person in order to purchase their shares. The Rubins eventually achieved control and agreed that Bernard would run the company as president. Bernard D. Rubin was able to steadily increase sales and restore profits, changing the formula of the Tootsie Roll and increasing its size, moving from Manhattan to a much larger plant in Hoboken, New Jersey, and guiding the company successfully through the difficult war years during which vital raw materials were in short supply. When he died in 1948, he had increased the sales volume twelvefold. After his death his brother William B. Rubin served as president until 1962. In 1966, the company adopted its current name of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc.
The company has acquired several famous brands of confections such as The Candy Corporation of America's Mason Division (1972), Cellas' Confections (1985), The Charms Company (1988), The Warner–Lambert Company (1993, excluding gum and mints), Andes Candies (2000), and Concord Confections (2004).
Tootsie Roll Industries is one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world. More than 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made daily.
According to the company website, the original (and still current) recipe calls for the inclusion of the previous day's batch. "As such, there's (theoretically) a bit of Leo's very first Tootsie Roll in every one of the sixty four million Tootsie Rolls that Tootsie produces each day."
During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in 1950, mortar sections under the United States Marine Corps started to run out of mortar rounds. The radio men of these sections started requesting more rounds. There were too many nearby enemy anti-air emplacements however, and the risk that they might lose any airlifted supplies was too great, so they had to wait. After two days of waiting, all the mortar sections ran out of rounds. At this point the risk was taken and supplies were dropped anyway. When the troops found the crates of mortar rounds, they found the crates were instead filled with Tootsie Roll. The cause of this error was that a supply specialist did not know that the codename for mortar rounds was "Tootsie Rolls", and instead ordered hundreds of crates of Tootsie Roll candies instead of mortar rounds.
Captain Tootsie is an advertisement comic strip created for Tootsie Rolls in 1943 by C C Beck and Peter Costanza. It featured the title character Captain Tootsie and his sidekick, a boy named Rollo, and two other young cohorts named Fatso and Fisty. It had stories in the form of full color one-page Sunday strips, black and white daily strips, and two issues of a comic book of the same title released by Toby Press. The advertisement comic was featured by many publishers and in the newspapers.
Within the context of the stories, Captain Tootsie was quite strong and quicker to the punch than any of his enemies. His stories were light and "kid-friendly".
Captain Tootsie's comic strip ads ended in the 1950s.
The Tootsie Roll jingle was recorded at Blank Tape Studios in 1976. It is still occasionally played today. It aired on television regularly for more than 20 years. The jingle was sung by a nine-year-old girl, Rebecca Jane, and a 13-year-old boy, the children of jazz musicians and friends of the song's composer. The girl still has the original reel-to-reel audio tape recording.
The current U.S. ingredients of a chocolate Tootsie Roll are: sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil (a trans fat), condensed skim milk, cocoa, whey, soy lecithin, and natural and artificial flavors.
In addition to the traditional cocoa-flavored Tootsie Roll, several additional flavors have been introduced. Known as Tootsie Fruit Rolls, flavors include cherry, orange, vanilla, lemon, and lime. These varieties are wrapped in red, orange, blue, yellow and green wrappers, respectively. Tootsie Frooties come in numerous different fruit flavors including red strawberry, blue raspberry, grape, green apple, banana-berry, smooth cherry, fruit punch, pink lemonade, root beer, cran blueberry and watermelon.
In other countries
Tootsie Rolls have been introduced to Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Aruba, United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Panama, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Manny Fernandez, "Let Us Now Praise the Great Men of Junk Food", New York Times, August 7, 2010.
- Andrew F. Smith (2006). Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 271. ISBN 0-313-33527-3. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Welcome to Tootsie – Product Information – Tootsie Roll. Tootsie.com (2010-05-22). Retrieved on 2012-01-03.
- Veterans remember Chosin Reservoir battle. news-herald.com. Retrieved on 2012-01-03.
- Letter from Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. December 5, 1996.
- "Tootsie Roll Midgees Candy, 12 oz". Walmart. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Tootsie Roll Goes Kosher. Ou.org (2009-12-02). Retrieved on 2012-01-03.