Tootsie Roll is a mildly chocolate-flavored 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 confection, and does not melt. 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 Jewish 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 & Saalberg 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 Saalberg 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 14, 1922 in his room at the Monterey Hotel in Manhattan, leaving a note saying that he was “sorry, but could not help it”.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.
Tootsie Roll Industries (name adopted in 1966) is one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world. Approximately 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made daily.
According to the company website, the original 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.”
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