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The History of Tootsie Rolls

Tootsie Rolls were created by an Austrian immigrant named Leo Hirschfield, who started selling the candies in Brooklyn in 1896 for just 1 cent each. In 1905, Hirschfield opened a factory in New York City, but the candies were still delivered via horse and buggy. Reportedly, the candies were named after Clara Hirschfield, Leo’s daughter, whose nickname was Tootsie. However, some food historians disagree. One thing we do know for sure is that Tootsie Rolls were the first individually wrapped candies. They also solved a pretty big problem. Before air conditioning, summers in America meant messy melting chocolates. While not technically chocolate, Tootsie Rolls provided consumers with a similar taste without any of the mess. During World War II, Tootsie Rolls were sent to American soldiers overseas as part of their rations. During the Korean War, they were air-dropped to a team of Marines in a treacherous area, who not only appreciated the much-needed energy boost, but were able to use the putty-like Tootsie Rolls to repair some of their equipment, allowing them to successfully move to a safer location. In 1968, Tootsie Roll Industries moved its headquarters to Chicago, where it is still based today. The candy isn’t without controversy though, as a class action lawsuit has accused the brand of using trans fats in the 2010s (the candies are now made with palm oil). Today, Tootsie Rolls remain an iconic candy and are often included in Halloween candy bowls across America.

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