Posts filed under ‘Candy Origins and Stories’
Some time ago I published a post on the disputed nomenclature of the candy we know as “Black Crows” (read it here). Candy lore has it that the real name was supposed to be “Black Rose,” but some miscommunication resulted in birds instead of flowers. My post was a “proof” that Black Crows must have been the original name.
But why “Black Crows”? Now I think I know.
Today in a 1917 history of the confectionery trade in the city of Philadelphia, I discover this mention in passing:
In the early 40’s, Sebastian Henrion made the first Cream Chocolates and Jim Crows, the latter, which were quite black, being named after a troupe of colored minstrels then playing.
Get it? Jim Crows, Black Crows. The candy is, after all, quite black. So when you see that dandy crow in a top hat, think “racist minstral stereotype.” Mmmm, the taste of America.
Source: Ellwood B. Chapman, The Candy Making Industry in Philadelphia, Educational Pamphlet No. 6, Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 1917, page 4. See it here.
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 http://monthsofediblecelebrations.blogspot.com
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
When the Imperial Candy Company/Redel Candy Corp. of Milwaukee launched their new marshmallow line in 1917, they were clearly thinking about just one thing: Campfires. Marshmallow and campfires were the peanut butter and jelly of the ‘teens, and so they named their new confection “Campfire Marshmallows.”
The earliest packaging encouraged marshmallow munchers to roast the goodies around the flaming logs, or at least to imagine a forest surround. Here is a 1918 ad that sets the sylvan tone:
Although the campfire image suggests a rough masculinity, marshmallows were frequently marketed in ways that connected their appearance and texture with qualities of women and children. For example, a competing brand put out by the manufacturer of Cracker Jack was called “Angelus” and featured a cherubic little girl as the trademark. Along similar lines, in this 1919 ad Campfire brand makes a saucy connection between the puffy white mounds of marshmallow and the little cheeks of these cute rascals:
We can see in these ads that something dramatic has changed between 1918 and 1919. The 1918 box is really emphasizing the campfire theme. It even has the slogan “you can toast them if you like.” In contrast, the 1919 package was simplified and streamlined. And that wasn’t the only change afoot at Campfire headquarters.
In 1919, Campfire broke ranks with the leading marshmallow manufacturers. It launched an audacious new marketing campaign with one aim: to stock every pantry in America with marshmallows. American cooks had been experimenting with marshmallows for more than a decade, to be sure. (On scientific cookery at the turn of the century and the culinary rise of the marshmallow, see my post on Candy Salad). But Campfire wanted more: to redefine marshmallow altogether, to push marshmallow out of the candy store and into the baking aisle.
Campfire acted on multiple fronts to push marshmallow forever more onto grocery shelves. They changed the shape of the marshmallow to round, the better to cook with. Before that, marshmallows sold as candy were square. And they put the marshmallows in six ounce boxes, rather than the traditional candy-serving of two and 3/4 ounce. They launched a new advertising campaign which promoted marshmallow desserts: jellies and cakes and parfaits. And they put out a cook book featuring both familiar and entirely new recipes “showing the many uses of Campfire in preparing dainty desserts, cakes, puddings, etc.” The booklet was described in ads such as the one above, and included in the marshmallow package.
This 1920 ad features an even more elaborate dessert display, and the explicit suggestion that Campfire marshmallows deserve a permanent place in the kitchen pantry:
There was much to be gained in this push into the kitchen. As an admiring article in Printers Ink explained:
It is easy to see why Campfire keeps entirely away from the confectionery idea and bases its whole appeal on cooking and baking. … Regarded as candy, marshmallows would be purchased only semi-occasionally. Looked upon as a cookery staple most valuable in the preparation of new and dainty dishes it can have a steady demand.
But Campfire did not entirely abandon its marshmallow roasting history. Ads in Boys Life Magazine in 1920 and 1921 reminded Scouts of their summer camp marshmallow pleasures. In an early example of “kid-fluence” marketing, Campfire counseled:
Tell mother about these tempting Marshmallows today. Tell her there’s a recipe folder in every package. But be sure to tell her to get Campfire–the kind of Marshmallows you had at camp. (see the ad here)
Campfire Brand marshmallows today are manufactured by Doumak, Inc. It was Alexander Doumak who invented the modern extrusion process in 1948. Since 1900, marshmallows had been made using the starch mogul system, which involves dropping marshmallow goo into starch molds and letting it set. Doumak came up with the revolutionary idea of squeezing the marshmallow mixture out into a long tube and cutting it into pieces. It was faster and easier than the starch moguls. And that is the marshmallow we have today: tubes of white puffs in a sack, and sold as grocery.
Sources: All advertising images appeared in Confectioners Journal in the years indicated. “Changing a Confectionery into a Staple Article of Cooking,” Printers Ink, Jan 27, 1921 p. 97-100. For a detailed explanation of the modern marshmallow manufacturing process, see How Marshmallows are Made.
Candy Professor Marshmallow Madness continues today. Missed Part I? Click here for “In Search of Lost Marshmallow,” in which all mysteries of the origins and nature of marshmallow are revealed.
Marshmallows exploded onto the American candy scene in the early 1900s. New machines and recipes made it possible for marshmallow to be sold on a mass scale for the first time. And marshmallow everywhere inspired a new entertaining sensation for the high-society set: the marshmallow roast.
The city newspapers in Boston and Philadelphia and New York of the 1900s and 1910s are full of stories of fashionable marshmallow roasting parties. One such party in August 1908 brought a group of young revelers to the beach in Sea Girt, NJ:
A marshmallow party took a lot of young people from the Parker House down on the beach Wednesday evening, and there, making a fire, they gathered around the pile of burning driftwood and spun yarns, roasting just enough marshmallows to give an excuse for the gathering. “Sea Girt Plays Croquet,” NYT 8/1/1908
Marshmallow roasts weren’t restricted to the sea-side, to be sure. At mountain and lake side resorts in the summer months, the scene of roasting marshmallows around the campfire was always a highlight of the holiday. Summer society pages described the marshmallow roasting revels at popular destinations including Schroon Lake, Groton, Lake Placid, Belmar, and Pinehursh. A New York Times description of a 1911 party in Allenhurst, New Jersey gives a sense of the flavor of these evenings:
A marshmallow roast was given on Wednesday night by a number of young women and men from the cottage colony. They built a bonfire in front of the Casino and there toasted the sweets. When all the candy had been eaten they strolled along the beach in the moonlight.
It wasn’t just the society types who were roasting marshmallows in those days. Any place there was a camp fire, it seems, there were marshmallows. Camping was a popular American leisure activity for the middle classes, even in the 19th century. Teddy Roosevelt had gained fame as the leader of the “Rough Riders” in the Spanish American War in 1898; Roosevelt’s image of rugged fortitude and fresh-air adventure inspired the nation. Marshmallow roasting parties gave pampered city dwellers the chance to light the beach bonfire or the mountain campfire and go rustic. Kids were roughing it too: the idea of “scouting” for children was gaining popularity; the Boy Scouts of America would be founded in 1910.
The Scouts quickly developed a reputation for being inveterate marshmallow eaters. A Boys Life magazine editor, seeking to distinguish the useful magazine article from the obvious, zeroed in on the matter of marshmallow eating:
Eating marshmallows is an exercise that every scout knows perfectly well how to perform, and reading a hundred paragraphs about scouts who burned their tongues and smeared their faces with marshmallow powder would not increase their capacity for marshmallows. But, if the Podunk Scouts [who hope to have their article published] discovered some new, novel and brilliant stunt for acquiring those marshmallows, or developed some method by which they could be placed in the mouth blazing without taking the skin off their tongues, or invented some automatic guage that would stop a scout just before he absorbed enough marshmallows to make serious trouble in the department of the interior, that would be big news. (Boys Life July 1924 “Pow-Wow Department” p. 43)
Who roasted the first marshmallow, we don’t know. But I think it was a kid. You have this marshmallow, and you wonder, what would happen if I held a match to it? Only a kid would think of that. As the stories from the highs of the society pages to the middle brow pages of Boys Life attest, roasted marshmallows their eating and their roasting) are one treat with universal appeal. Is there anything better than the perfectly roasted marshmallow?
So this summer, as you douse your wood with lighter fluid and sharpen up your roasting sticks, imagine yourself back one hundred years ago. Lots of things have changed. But we still have roasted marshmallows!
Every summer, my family takes a trip to a lake cabin in Wisconsin. Pine trees, squishy lake mud, roaring campfires. And of course, roasted marshmallows.
So when we arrived, I ran into the super-grocery in town to hustle up the marshmallows. And then I stood there, stumped. Where are marshmallows in a grocery store? I tried baking goods first, figuring they were a little bit like the chocolate chips and shredded cocoanut, sort of dessert add ins. Nope. Then I thought about all those Jello and marshmallow mystery salads I see up north and tried for the aisle with the gelatin dessert mixes. Nope. After asking two nice ladies who pointed in four different directions, and wandering aisles of ketchup and crackers, I found them at last. No wonder I had so much trouble. They were way down on the bottom shelf, in those sad, utilitarian plastic bags that look a little deflated and floppy. But there they were. In the candy aisle. Because, duh, marshmallows are candy.
We don’t eat marshmallows as candy much these days. Outside the annual S’mores, most of us will most likely encounter a marshmallow as an adjunct to something else: topping mashed yams at Thanksgiving, mixed in with ice cream for Rocky Road, or sprinkled on top of winter cocoa. Given how hard they were to find in the store, it seems like they are a little embarrassing, especially today now that those fantastical jewel-toned gelatin salads are less the rage.
You wouldn’t know, looking at that Jet-Puff, that the first marshmallow candy actually was made from a plant. The Marsh Mallow grows near salt marshes. It’s roots extrude a mucus-like goo that has long been prized for its medicinal powers. European apothecaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth century concocted sweet confections with marshmallow root which were prescribed for coughs and throat ailments.
But for candy purposes, there was a problem with marsh mallow: it doesn’t taste very good. By the 18th century, a new version of “marsh mallow paste” was being made with apple jelly or vegetable gums. Although these early marshmallows also incorporated beaten egg whites, they were much more dense and chewy than those we know today.
Marshmallow was a time consuming and difficult confection, and few confectioners had the know-how or the patience to produce marshmallow, so in the nineteenth century, unless you were fortunate to have a very skilled and devoted confectioner in your town, marshmallow would be unknown to you.
With the development of the starch mogul in the late 1800s, which allowed for easy moulding of the sticky marshmallow paste in starch-filled trays, marshmallows became more widely available. American confectioners developed new marshmallow recipes using gelatine and starch rather than more expensive gums. And behold: the American marshmallow, a fluffy, cloud-like, and inexpensive treat.
Love those marshmallows? Stay tuned, there’s much more coming in the Marshmallow Chronicles!
Marshmallow Confectionery History Sources: Marshmallow @ Made How; Laura Mason, Sugar Plums and Sorbets: The Prehistory of Sweets