Posts filed under ‘1890 to WW I’
Thanks to everyone who shared their recollections of Sunday treats, candy and otherwise.
These days, Sunday is just another day in most cities. Stores are open, brunch is in full swing, and the newspapers are fat enough to last the day long. But there was a time when some people believed Sunday should be set aside for the Lord’s Work.
Reformers back in the day looked askance at every form of Sunday pleasure. Candy was an easy target. Here is a satirical newspaper item from 1904 recounting a Sunday Candy controversy in East Orange, NJ:
DOWN WITH SUNDAY CANDY!
Just when we had all settled down comfortably to the belief that there wasn’t anything in East Orange to be reformed, a few faithful and lynx-eyed guardians of the city’s morality come along and discover that open candy stores on Sunday are playing havoc by tempting the youngsters to spend their pennies. That can never be tolerated. How are we to expect boys and girls to grow up into clean, healthy men and women if they succumb to the temptation to buy candy on Sunday? And ours is the fault if the temptation be there.
Let us to work at once! Introduce into the textbooks of the schools lessons setting forth the wretchedness and degradation which must inevitably follow the vicious habit of spending pennies for candy on Sunday. Give the youngsters overdoses of candy six days of the week, but on the seventh make them hold their appetite—and their pennies.
If there’s no other way of effecting this glorious reform we can make it an issue at the next election. “No Sunday Candy” would sweep the city.
Truth (Newark NJ weekly) , Sunday Feb 20, 1904
Here at Candy Professor, we’re on the elusive trail of “Tootsie.”
The official Tootsie Roll story is that candy inventor Leo Hirschfeld named the chewy chocolate bite after his little daughter Clara, nickname “Tootsie.”
As I discussed in the previous post, a little girl called “Tattling Tootsie” was used to promote an earlier Stern & Saalberg product, Bromangleon dessert powder (which was also a Hirschfeld invention). But Tattling Tootsie doesn’t seem to have been used to promote Tootsie Rolls.
But here’s an intriguing image, courtesy of John and Stephanie Cook, who found this advertising card used as the backing for an old print:
Is this Tootsie? The verse doesn’t seem to suggest a name; here’s a best guess reconstruction suggested by the Cooks:
Why has the hungry [little girl] begun her lunch so [soon?]
Because you cannot [make her wait] for Tootsie Rolls [till noon.]
I don’t know what Clara Hirschfeld looked like. But this Tootsie Roll tyke in no way resembles Tattling Tootsie used in the Bromangelon ads.
The Bromangelon Tootsie is from around 1907. As for the Tootsie Roll girl, there are several clues that help date this ad. The wrapper in the image was introduced in 1913. The earlier wrapper said “Chocolate Tootsie Roll”, the new wrapper and packaging introduced in 1913 added “Chocolate Candy Tootsie Roll.” I do know that in 1919 the wrapper looked totally different, but it is most likely that by 1917 at the latest Tootsie Roll was not using this style wrapper. So I would put this placard as being before WWI, but no older than 1913.
I think these two little Tootsie girls tell us more about changing images of girl-hood and advertising than they do about Clara Hirschfeld. The earlier Tattling Tootsie is explicitly connected with the home. Her outfit and pose are unambiguously feminine. She is prim and proper: her dress and hair are neat and controlled. Bromangelon was marketed to housewives as a convenience food, so perhaps the neat and prim little girl also suggests the successful mother who keeps her child looking so well-tended.
But the later Tootsie Roll girl seems more mischievous. The bow in her hair assures us she is a girl, but her drooping socks and ambiguous clothes suggest more outdoors and active adventure. Her school books locate her outside the home, away from parents and parental controls. And this girl is a little naughty: she won’t wait to eat her Tootsie Roll. This ad may have been aimed as much at children as at adults; in this period, it would not have been uncommon for a child to purchase such candy on her own, much as suggested in this ad.
By the way, I believe the artist has taken some liberty in drawing the Tootsie Roll candy to monstrous scale for visual effect. The tube in the girl’s hand seems to be immense, bigger even than her school books. But actual Tootsie Roll candy as you would have found it for sale in this period was probably more like 3-4 inches long.
Thanks to John and Stephanie Cook for their permission to share this image and for their enthusiasm for candy sleuthing.
- Tootsie Roll Tragedy: The Real Leo Hirschfeld Story
- Tough Tootsie, and How it Got to Be That Way
- Chocolate? Tootsie Roll
- Tootsie Roll: Penny Candy That’s Not
- Tootsie, Bromangelon, and a Foul Stench
Before Tootsie Roll, there was Bromangelon.
Bromangelon, that delicious jelled dessert powder that was a staple of American kitchens in the 1890s and 1900s. Jell-O barely existed; it was Bromangelon that housewives turned to for their surprising dessert effects.
If you haven’t read the pre-history of Tootsie Rolls, you can read my Tootsie expose here. But today I want to fill in a few choice details about Bromangelon. The sugar-flavor-gelatin product was the original break-out hit of the Stern & Saalberg Company, who would later introduce Tootsie Rolls to the world.
Tootsie Rolls did not exist prior to 1909. But Tootsie did; Tattling Tootsie, that is. Tattling Tootsie, a cute little dark-haired girl, was the brand icon for Bromangelon. A generous reader sent me images of a promotional booklet for the dessert product, featuring little Tootsie herself tattling away.
The booklet continues with several pages of doggerel accounting Tootsie’s tendency to tattle on members of the household and their love of Bromangelon. I date this color advertising booklet to around 1907; a similar black and white “Tattling Tootsie” booklet refers to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, so later than that date. The black and white version mentions fewer flavors, and has some details in the drawing that suggest an earlier printing, so I’m dating this color version as later, but prior to Stern & Saalberg’s venture into Tootsie Rolls in 1909.
Legend has it that Tootsie was the nickname for Clara, the daughter of Leo Hirschfeld, who invented both Bromangelon and Tootsie Roll. Perhaps. But Tattling Tootsie looks more like the work of an ad agency than the inspiration of a candy inventor. Tootsie was a popular nickname, something you might call just about any cute girl (as in “hiya, toots!”). Tootsie Roll is a cute name for a candy, sure, but the image of a girl in the style of Tattling Tootsie does not appear to have been associated with the candy in its early advertising.
Bromangelon was at the cutting edge of a new style of cuisine, food from chemicals and packages that assembled quickly and inspired radically new interpretations of traditional ways of eating. Salad, dessert, breakfast and dinner blended together under the ministrations of a package of Bromangelon and a creative assemblage of other ingredients.
The original Bromangelon was pink, of undisclosed flavor. By the time of this booklet in the early 1900s, several flavors were available: Lemon, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Peach and Chocolate. The Chocolate flavor, a late addition to the line up, is especially interesting in light of later Tootsie Roll developments. As for the fruit flavors, they may have been more or less recognizeable; the science of flavoring was at this time in its infancy, and terms like “peach” and “lemon” were more likely to signify aromatic chemicals than fruit essences.
Not everyone was a fan of Bromangelon. The name itself is a puzzle. Publicity tended to include the explanatory breakdown “bro-man-gel-on” suggesting that consumers were having trouble remembering or pronouncing the neologism. From The American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record (1903), this fanciful Greek-ish etymology:
What is Bromangelon?
A foul spirit. From bromos, a stench, and angellus, a spirit.
Thanks to Louise Volper for the Bromangelon booklet. She has a great blog at
If you’d like to experience a bit of Victorian Christmas this year, you might visit the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Indiana. Historical interpreters at this museum are re-creating some late 19th century holiday traditions for their visitors. One might surprise you: Christmas candies in the shape of cockroaches!
Marcia Young of the museum explained to a reporter for the Illinois Times:
“Candy was a big deal to kids. Getting candy only happened on very special occasions,” says Young. For Christmas, Victorians gave them lots of candy in stockings or as gifts. Some of that candy was made to look like items in nature. “This was a time in which a lot of exploration is occurring all over the globe,” Young says. “Victorians are very excited about what they’re finding. They’re fascinated by the natural world, even the smallest parts, like insects.” That fascination inspired their candy-making, so they created [candies] that looked like carrots, lobsters, rabbits, beetles, spiders, and even cockroaches.
Today the Davis Mansion is offering a modern interpretation of those Christmas Cockroaches, made of molded chocolate. But the candies the Davis children received long ago would not likely have been made of chocolate. The museum has a letter received by Sarah Davis that describes a “sugar cockroach” received by a young friend in Massachusetts.
A “sugar cockroach” would be a molded fondant candy, similar to the inside of a Peppermint Patty. Candy corn was invented around the same time; like cockroaches, corn was another of the plants, animals and insects that were popular shapes for the candy of the day (see my article on the history of candy corn at TheAtlantic.com). Now, I wonder why candy corn was so popular, and candy cockroaches just didn’t catch on? And what about candy bedbugs?
In North America, Halloween parties have long been a favorite way to mark the holiday. The first descriptions of parlor gatherings come from the 1870s; by the 1890s the festivities were well established, with a variety of favorite games and activities and of course foods and decorations. Then as today, Halloween parties have always had a place for candy. But the kinds of candy, and the role of candy in the festivities, have changed pretty dramatically.
From the American Girl’s Handy Book (1888), a full chapter on festivities for “All Hallow Eve”, wherein candy makes a brief appearance:
Putting aside conventionality and dignity as we laid aside our wraps, ready for any fun or mischief that might be on hand, we proceeded down-stairs and into the kitchen, where a large pot of candy was found bubbling over the fire. This candy, poured into plates half-full of nuts, was eaten at intervals during the evening, and served to keep up the spirits of those who were inclined to be cast down by the less pleasing of Fortune’s decrees.
Ideas for a Halloween party in 1894 published in The American Agriculturalist included these proposals for refreshments: nut cake, pop corn, molasses candy and “as many more goodies as one cares to provide.”
In these pre-1900 party scenes, the candy references are decidedly turned toward the home-spun. Molasses candy could be purchased, but it was also a simple candy to make oneself, by cooking down molasses to candy consistency. As the American Girl’s Handy Book suggests, home candy making was a fun activity, especially suited to the colder fall and winter months.
The use of manufactured candy at Halloween only slowly became a common practice. The children’s magazine St. Nicholas describes in detail the decorations, refreshments, games and entertainments for a children’s celebration of Halloween in 1905. Candy makes one brief appearance as part of the dining table décor: “The dining-table was set with a group of carrot candlesticks and bowlfuls of apples, nuts, grapes, and candy.” The story does not specify what sorts of candy are in the bowls. Here is an image:
Is there even any candy in this picture? The predominance of apples, grapes and nuts suggests that candy’s place in the 1905 Halloween decorating and treating scheme was minimal.
Where purchased candy is incorporated into the party, it is not necessarily any special kind of candy. For example, in 1917, the Kansas chapter of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity reported:
On October 20 the annual tacky party was given. Arriving in a hayrack, the guests entered the house by way of the kitchen door. The rooms were decorated with corn and witches in true Halloween fashion. Popcorn, apples, penny candy sticks, doughnuts, pie, and cider were served. The party was one of the most successful in the chapter’s history.
The “penny candy sticks” featured in Phi Gamma Delta’s Halloween romp were just about the most ordinary sort of candy you could find in those days. And in these Menus for Halloween Suppers featured in the October 1915 issue of American Cookery (the magazine of the Boston Cooking School) the proposed molasses candy, caramels and marshmallows were year round popular commercial candies. Notably, one of the three menus has no candy at all:
Hot Bacon Sandwiches
Pop Corn Balls
Hot Cheese Sandwiches
Yeast Doughnuts, Sugared
Today, many Americans and parents especially are beginning to feel like the candy at Halloween has gotten a little out of hand. These party descriptions and ideas from a century ago might be good inspiration for a way of celebrating a less candified Halloween. Halloween Donuts, anyone?
More: An excellent book on the history of Halloween in North America (but not, alas, much on candy) is Nicholas Rogers, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night (Oxford University Press, 2002).
One of the fun things about looking back at the beginnings of the commercial candy trade is to see how modern ideas about marketing, sales and promotion first began to take hold. Today we are so accustomed to the annual round of seasonal sales and holiday decorations. But in the early 1900s, these were new ideas for retail.
In a 1917 issue of The National Druggist (St. Louis, MO), for example, a writer explains the basic idea of holiday promotion:
Holiday times are always good times for business. In the first place, people are then in a spending humor. “Other days they go around with their pockets buttoned up tight,” says an old druggist. “On holidays they open them.” … The point is that it will pay a retail merchant to capitalize the holidays as they come along, that is, to catch people while they are in a spending humor.
The description for window display possibilities for Halloween from this same article gives a useful description of the kind of commercial decorations that were widely available from stationery and novelty shops in this era:
Halloween gives us a fine opportunity for working up timely business. The wholesale stationers and novelty houses supply a big line of Halloween favors, place cards, paper table covers, paper napkins, noise makers, Halloween hats and a variety of Halloween decorations. Halloween suits for small children are coming into vogue now and some good sales may be made. Halloween is always a great time for window displays. The season’s colors, yellow and black, are extremely effective.
Interesting to note the reference to “Halloween suits for small children.” Although trick or treating was not yet invented, it was popular in some cities and towns to parade about or to go visiting door to door on Halloween. Here is an early glimmer of the costume business that will become so central to Halloween in our day.
Publications for soda fountains and candy shops made similar efforts to persuade business proprietors of the necessity of dressing up for the holidays. In the October 1921 issue of The Soda Fountain (New York, NY), a column urges “More Window Displays Needed”:
Window displays and fountain decorations are more important factors in business than is generally realized and the establishments which make use of them to the fullest extent are loud in their praise of them as business-getters.
This column offers some ideas for Halloween display as well:
Halloween, with its traditional orange and black color schemes, its pumpkins and black cats and witches, offers the excuse for any number of effective decorative schemes. With these displays may be joined various devices for attracting trade: souvenirs, special dishes, contests, etc., may all be tied up with the Halloween displays. Special candy sales, using appropriate containers are effective and often used to attract attention.
Soda fountains often sold candy as well, so the reference to special candy sales is not unusual. But it is notable that while special sales are mentioned, special candies are not.
While many small businesses seem to have been timid about taking advantage of holiday themes, some retailers in this era were extremely creative and adventurous in mounting impressive seasonal displays. A 1918 story in The National Drug Clerk (Chicago) describes in detail the Halloween display of one large New York druggist:
The ceiling and walls of the window were covered with grey crepe, and were cleverly decorated with black witches sailing on their brooms, black cats, and yellow pumpkins. To give a different effect, some of the witches were sailing in aeroplanes, and had a black cat sitting on one of the wings.In the middle of the window was the customary large pumpkin. The eyes, instead of being square, were large and round.and long eyebrows tilting down toward the nose, were painted in, in black. The nose was cut in a V-shape, with black whiskers twirling around the mouth. The eyes were illuminated with tiny red lights.To the left of the pumpkin was a large mask (about two or three times the size of a regular mask) resembling a pirate. … To the right of the pumpkin was a mask resembling the Giant in “Jack the Giant Killer.” … Suspended on different colored strings, which hung from the ceiling, were numerous kinds of masks of regulation size.
On the floor of the window, which was also covered with grey crepe, were dainty little printed invitations. Some of the invitations were decorated with black cats while some were plain. Here and there were favors for the party, consisting of tiny boxes of candy in the shape of wishing wells and cats, whistles shaped like witches on their brooms, small dolls dressed up as witches and apples made of a wire frame, covered with red transparent paper, and filled with candy.
Leaning against the walls were books of games, conundrums and some of the popular ghost stories and superstitions connected with Hallowe’en.
This is a display for a druggist, not a candy store, but it is nevertheless striking that candy is so inconspicuous in the display. Druggists were perhaps the next largest retailers of candy, after specialty candy shops.Yet in this display, candy is only featured as the filling for party favors.
I imagine these paper-covered wire frame apple favors as the ancient ancestors of today’s trick or treat plastic pumpkin buckets. A century ago, kids would take home an apple’s worth of candy corn from their Halloween festivities. Today, we fill those huge pumpkins to the brim.
Glassine is a kind of paper. It is thin, translucent, moisture and grease resistant. It is in wide use today, you’ve seen glassine envelopes for stamp collecting, or maybe bought a sack of hot roasted peanuts in a glassine bag.
In the ‘teens, the packaging of candy changed dramatically. Old-time candy was packaged in bulk, and measured out at the point of sale. You can see the problems with this system, though: it was slow, you needed a clerk to serve each customer, it might be unhygienic, and it didn’t encourage any kind of brand loyalty.
Glassine was one of the new materials that made it possible for candy makers to package their goods individually. They could put their name on the package, thus enhancing brand identity. And glassine allowed for a cloudy glimpse of the tasty candy inside.
Here are some examples of early glassine packaging. I especially like these images because they show examples of the earliest candy bars produced by small and long-gone candy makers.
As the “Glassine Bags” ad shows, glassine was also useful for packaging things like peanuts, popcorn, and small candies because it could be glued into the shape of a bag or envelope.
Of course, today the flexible and transparent poly bags have taken the place of glassine. But in our time of “green” packaging, maybe we’ll see a glassine comeback!
Ads appeared in Confectioners Journal, 1919 and 1920.
When I say lollipop, what comes to mind? Dum Dum? Tootsie Pop?
Well, if it were 1920, you’d probably think first of the Scout Sucker.
Back in the early 1900s, there were suckers, sure. And every candy shop, no matter what other sorts of candy they sold, was sure to sell lots of suckers. But there was nothing distinctive about them. They were all more or less alike, no package or wrapper or brand to distinguish one from another. And a kid would just say “give me a sucker” and get whatever kind the shop happened to sell.
Scout Sucker was the first one to come in a special box with a special wrapper, and an ambitious advertising campaign to back it up. So instead of asking for suckers, kids started asking for Scout Suckers.
The man behind Scout Suckers was named H.W. Faulkner. In 1912, he was a scrappy 15 year old scrubbing out tubs in an ice cream parlor. But he had big dreams, and the way to riches was paved with candy. He got a bit of capital together, and by 1917 had his own little manufacture going in a basement. Faulkner knew from the start that it was all about branding and advertising. Of his first $900 investment, he put 20 percent into advertising. His business strategy was a success. Faulkner Candy grew and grew; by 1920 Faulkner had moved to a huge new factory in Mount Vernon, Illinois and was churning out millions of Scout Suckers. Faulkner was all of 23 years old.
The factory was a model of modern manufacturing efficiencies. As you can see in the picture, it was built next to the rail road line and boasted its own side track. This meant that supplies could be shipped directly by rail car; corn syrup arrived in tanks and was piped into the basement, saving on the costs of unloading barrels. The corn syrup and other ingredients would be pumped to the top floor, where manufacture began, the goods being drawn ever downward by gravity until they would arrive in their final boxes at the bottom floor, flying out the chute and into customers’ waiting mouths.
By the way, Americans didn’t used to call them “lollipops.” That’s an old word with a more general meaning, usually given as “sweetmeat.” The word was frequently used to denote something trifling and enjoyable; “Mrs. Lollipop” and “King Lollipop” were frequent characters in children’s stories of the nineteenth century, and “Lollipop” was also the name of an early 1900s literary magazine. In the early 1900s, Americans typically called candy on a stick an “all-day sucker” which soon was shortened to “sucker” simple. Notwithstanding the adorable Shirley Temple warbling about the “Good Ship Lollipop” in 1934, here in the U.S. the word “lollipop” to mean exclusively candy on a stick does not seem to have been universally accepted until the 1940s. But then, “On the Good Ship Sucker” wouldn’t have been quite so catchy.
P. W. Hanna, “Men and Methods: H.W. Faulkner” System, the Magazine for Business, March 1922 286-87, 310. Scout Sucker and factory images from Faulkner advertising in Confectioners Journal, February 1920.
Who was the first to put a blob of candy on a stick and call it a “sucker”?
It seems like a pretty obvious idea now, but back in the 1800s candy makers didn’t just have sticks lying around. They made “candy sticks,” and you could suck on that.
In Canada the innovation is credited to Gilbert and James Ganong who ran a grocery in St. Stephen. The story goes that they had some of the sticks butchers use to fasten meat, and they hit on the idea of pressing the stick into a warm piece of candy. This was in 1895, and the candy on a stick was a big hit, spreading across Canada in a few short years.
On this side of the border, we don’t have any particular contender for the honorary title of “inventor,” but we do know that by 1900 the phrase “all-day sucker,” meaning hard candy on a stick, had passed into common idiomatic use.
And not everyone approved. A Pennsylvania teacher writing in 1900 laments the lassitude and distractibility of the child whose attention is overly focused on candy:
I ask the pupils…above all things to avoid that demoralizing ‘all-day sucker.’ I have never yet had a child who was persistently devoted to this candy who was of any account. One can buy four all-day suckers for a penny, and there is something so exasperatingly self-satisfied in the child who starts to school in the morning with three of these pieces in his hand and one in his mouth!
Four all-day suckers to a penny! Another writer remembers the price at two to the penny, and recollects his fondness for the sweets:
In my youthful days they used to have what they called an all-day sucker, selling at two for a cent, from which any reasonable human being of ordinary suction-power could extract a steady stream of unalloyed bliss for twenty-four hours, or, if he worked on the thing for one eight-hour shift per day, for three solid days. My idea of Heaven used to be a Harp, a Halo, and an all-day sucker ever ready for my need. (1916)
That price was bound to rise; by 1920, when sucker manufacture really took off, the typical sucker would cost a penny a piece.
And what about the sticks? Today we’re used to paper or plastic to hold our candy upright, but back in the 1900s it would have been wood. Who was cutting up all those little sticks for suckers? It must have been tedious work. Finally around 1925, someone came up with a machine to cut up boards into little sucker sticks, at the rate of 50,000 sticks per hour.
And one last thought on those sticks. Maybe you remember the famous line from the movie Some Like It Hot (1959) when Sugar Kane Kowalczyk says “Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.” Here’s the same sentiment, circa 1896:
A GRIEF AND A REFLECTION.
She was sitting on the curbstone,
And she wept and sobbed aloud,
While her little friends stood near her
In a sympathetic crowd.
“What’s the matter, dear?” I asked her;
“Are you hurt or are you sick?”
“No; I’ve sucked my all-day sucker,
Till there’s nothing left but stick!”
Well, a penny cured her trouble
With another “sucker” quick;
But why is it that life’s taffy
Nearly always ends in “stick?”
Sources: Candymaking in Canada: the history and business of Canada’s confectionery industry By David Carr (Dundurn Press Ltd., 2003); “Snappy Recitation: How to Make a Recitiation Snappy and the movement Brisk” Pennsylvania school journal, Vol 48 no 12 (June 1900): 547-550 ; John Kendrick Bangs, “The Genial Philosopher,” The Independent, Nov. 27, 1916, p. 372 ; “Making of ‘All-Day Sucker’ Sticks is a New Industry,” Popular Mechanics Nov 1925 p. 744 ; Bessie Chandler, “A Grief and a Reflection,” The Times and Register. (Philadelphia and Boston) Vol. 32. Oct 24, 1896 p. 360
If you are a fan of Hershey’s and a history buff, you might know the excellent book by James McMahon called Built on Chocolate: The Story of the Hershey Chocolate Company. This is a lavishly illustrated authorized company history. McMahon is the curator of the Hershey Museum, and he had access to the company archives to reproduce examples of goods and ephemera from every era of Hershey.
But here’s one he didn’t include:
This is a 1906 ad for milk chocolate wafers in a novelty package. The bag looks like a mail bag. But there’s more:
The mail car creates an intriguing display for the individual mail pouches. This is in a period when the idea of retail display is really in its infancy. Hershey had very fancy wrappers for his goods, suggeting that part of his success was in grasping early on the importance of presentation.
Milton Hershey had perfected his milk chocolate formula only a few years before, and began selling the first milk chocolate bars made in America in 1900. Milk chocolate “kisses” would be introduced in 1907. So this 1906 milk chocolate wafer is something in between, an intermediate step between the full-size bars and the foil wrapped kisses. It’s hard to say just how big this mail sack is, but since a milk chocolate bar for eating was sold at 5 cents in 1906, this 10 cent portion must have been substantially more.
This ad appeared in Confectioners Journal in October 1906.
For more on the history of Hershey’s Kisses, see my related posts: