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Tootsie Roll is a chocolate-like, taffy-like candy that has been manufactured in the United States since 1907. The candy has qualities similar to both caramels and taffy without being exactly either type, and does not melt while being transported during hot summer months. The manufacturer, Tootsie Roll Industries, is based in Chicago, Illinois. It was the first penny candy to be individually wrapped in America.
According to the official company history, founder Leo Hirshfield (Hirschfield) (d. 1922), an Austrian immigrant to the United States of America, started his candy business in a small shop located in New York City in 1896. The candy business was not his own; in 1896, Hirschfield, son of an Austrian candy maker, was an employee of the Stern & Staalberg company in Manhattan, New York, owned by Julius Stern and Jacob Saalberg. The first candy that Hirschfield created was Bromangelon Jelly Powder; he did not invent Tootsie Rolls until 1907, after patenting a technique to give them their unique texture. The first Tootsie Rolls were marketed in September 1908. After rising to vice-president and seeing the company change its name to Sweets Company of America in 1917 (after which Stern and Staalberg retired and the new management outranked him), Hirschfield resigned or was fired in 1920. He started Mells Candy, which went bankrupt, and as a result he committed suicide on January 13, 1922 in his room at the Monterey Hotel in Manhattan, leaving the note "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help it". Hirschfield never ran a candy shop in Brooklyn. Hirschfield named the candy after his daughter Clara, whose nickname was "Tootsie".
In 1935, the company was in serious difficulty. Tootsie Roll's principal supplier of paper boxes, Joseph Rubin & Sons of Brooklyn, concerned about the possible loss of an important customer, decided to acquire the troubled company. 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 Rubin family eventually achieved control of Tootsie Roll and agreed that Bernard Rubin would run the company as president. Under his leadership, the company was able to steadily increase sales and restore profits by changing the formula of the Tootsie Roll and increasing its size. Additionally, Rubin moved the company from Manhattan to a much larger plant in Hoboken, New Jersey, and guided 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 twelve-fold.
After Bernard Rubin's death, his brother William B. Rubin served as president until 1962, when William's daughter Ellen Rubin Gordon took control. As of August 2015, she is chairman and CEO of the company, having succeeded her late husband, Melvin Gordon, who was Chairman and CEO for many years.
According to the company website, the original (and still current) recipe calls for the inclusion of the previous day's batch, a graining process that continues to this day. "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 they accidentally ordered hundreds of crates of Tootsie Roll candies instead of mortar rounds. This was because some elements of the United States military had used "tootsie rolls" as code for mortar rounds.
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Captain Tootsie is an advertisement comic strip created for Tootsie Rolls in 1943 by C C Beck, Peter Costanza and Bill Schreider (1950 onwards). It featured the title character Captain Tootsie and his sidekick, a boy named Rollo (a black-haired boy), and three other young cohorts named Fatso (a red-haired boy), Fisty (a blonde boy), and Sweetie (a blonde haired girl). 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, "Whatever It Is I Think I See," was recorded at Blank Tape Studios, New York in 1976. It is still occasionally played today. It aired on television regularly for more than 20 years, mostly during Saturday morning cartoon programming. The jingle was sung by a nine-year-old, Rebecca Jane Weinstein, and 13-year-old David Johnson, the children of jazz musicians and friends of the song's composer. Originally David was to sing the solo "Whatever it is I think I see, becomes a Tootsie Roll to me," but his voice was changing and cracked on the high notes, so the solo was given to Rebecca.   Rebecca still has the original reel-to-reel audio tape recording.
In addition to the traditional cocoa-flavored Tootsie Roll, several additional flavors have been introduced. Known as Tootsie Fruit Chews, 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, Egypt, Mexico, Ireland, Aruba, United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Panama, Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and Costa Rica.
- Kawash, Samira (February 1, 2010). "Chocolate? Tootsie Rolls". Candy Professor.
- Manny Fernandez, "Let Us Now Praise the Great Men of Junk Food", New York Times, August 7, 2010.
- "KILLS HIMSELF IN HOTEL.; Illness and Wife's Breakdown Are Blamed for Candy Man's Suicide.". 14 January 1922 – via NYTimes.com.
- "Tootsie Roll Tragedy: The Real Leo Hirschfeld Story". 3 February 2010.
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- Reported by Rebecca Jane Weinstein.
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