The Food That Built America Recap for Planet Mars

The Food That Built America Recap for Penny Candy Craze

The Food That Built America Recap for Penny Candy Craze

-This week’s The Food That Built America focuses on penny candy!

-The Hershey Bar was invented in 1900 and became an instant hit for sweet lovers. Its success led to more candy being invented, including candy made by one Mr. Leo Hirshfield……the man behind the Tootsie Roll. Before that came into play, he was known for Bromangelon, which is a gelatin dessert similar to Jello.

-Before long, Bromangelon copycats took over, including the company known as Jello, leading Hirshfield to become desperate to fight back.

-Hirshfield began experimenting with versions of chocolate gelatin similar to the one Jello made famous. He tried baking it, leading to the unexpected invention of the Tootsie Roll. He decided to go with it since many places were looking for chocolate that could be sold without melting.

-The candy was named after Hirshfield’s daughter Clara, nicknamed Tootsie. In order to keep it from sticking together, he made them individually wrapped, a first for candies.

-Tootsie Rolls soon became a hit in the candy world and led to more individually wrapped candies swooping in, including Hershey Kisses.

-Walter Reid Jr, a high school dropout determined to become rich, saw the candies being sold and decided to get in on the action.

-Reid decided to go into the candy business, but using flavors people wouldn’t ordinary get at the time….tropical fruits! Enter hard candies, which were then used for medicinal purposes.

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-Reid decided to sell 10 for 5 cents, but they kept sticking together in packages. Luckily, the invention of cellophane led to solving this problem. Welcome, Charms Candies!

-World War 1 was taking place during the invention of Charms, so Reid decided to convince those involved to add them to rations for soldiers.

-Tootsie Rolls are a runaway hit, but Hirshfield thinks he deserves a piece of the profits or at least to be recognized for his invention. Since he isn’t business savvy, he is at a loss as to what to do.

-Hirshfield’s wife is also sick at this time and is sent away to recover. All the pressure leads to him taking his own life.

-Reid is also facing challenges of his own. Many other companies are making competing candies, including Lifesavers, his biggest competition. He knows he needs to invent a new candy to come out on top….enter the lollipop!

-Before long, lollipops are a big hit. However, Reid runs into structural issues. He ends up inventing flat lollipops….and Charms Pops, cold for 5 cents.

-Charms Pops soon became iconic and a big part of the Roaring 20s…until the Great Depression hit.

-Penny candies were no longer a hit. Instead, people were buying more filling candy bars as a meal.

-Stern and Stahlberg, who were in charge of the Tootsie Roll company, decide to invent the Tootsie Pop, thanks to an accidental moment of trying the Tootsie Roll and lollipop at the same time.

-They are in trouble with creditors and partners, but this invention saves them, thanks to Bernard Rubin, who decides to give the guys one more chance.

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-The three flavors–chocolate, watermelon and strawberry–help bring in money, but it is still not enough to completely save the company. Rubin then buys shares in the company and becomes the president. He now must make changes to help save the company.

-Longer Tootsie Rolls are now invented, giving the illusion of more product and therefore more cost effective.

-The company is saved! Celebrities are now in ads, including Frank Sinatra, who loved them so much he always had them on him and was said to have been buried with them in his coffin.

-Reid is struggling and brings in his son to help save his company. He starts from the ground up, but would soon turn the company into a multi-million dollar business, inventing new candies, including the Blow Pop.

-Tootsie Rolls wanted to appeal to the next generation, so they came up with the iconic Tootsie Pop commercial with the ‘how many licks’ question. The actual answer is 364 licks.

-The Blow Pop is now a hit for Charms, beating out Tootsie Pops for a short amount of time.

-By 1988 Tootsie is the top dog in the candy industry for the lollipop and penny candy franchise.

-More next week, stay tuned@

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Author: Sammi Turano
Sammi has been a journalist for over a decade, specializing in entertainment, lifestyle, sports and celebrity news. She is the owner of TVGrapevine and Football in High Heels and the Host of Grapevine in High Heels With Sammi.