Posts Tagged ‘Lollipops’

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You probably noticed that we subtitled this blog, “A history of the birth of the lollipop” rather than “The birth of the lollipop.” Well, that’s because there are so many “historical” versions of the origins of the lolli, almost as many as the tongue licks in a lollipop.  Although the saying, “there’s a sucker born every minute” is often attributed to the famous American circus showman P.T. Barnum, no one really knows its origins. You’ll discover here why this saying might just as easily have been said by someone trying to follow the story of the lollipop.

Legend has it that the origins of lollipops (sometimes spelled lollypops) can be found on cave paintings of people licking sticks used to collect honey from beehives. Also, there’s evidence that the ancient Chinese, Arabs, and Egyptians made candied fruit and nuts using honey and inserting sticks into the sweet mixture, thereby making it easier to eat. This sweet mix was originally used for preserving fruits and nuts rather than as a sweet treat (Food Timeline).

Candy Apples                                                                                                                                           Chinese Candied Fruit – Tanghulu

By the 17th century, as sugar from the Caribbean became more plentiful for the English, sugar moved from simply being a medicinal base to something sweet to eat. Richardson, in his 2002 book, Sweets: A History of Candy, writes that the distinction between the medicinal and confectionary uses of sweets was blurred from candy’s very beginnings, creating a sort of crisis for apothecaries. Richardson writes that at the time, pharmacists were quite scornful of the confectioners probably because the candyman could sell sweets to those looking for something tasty rather than something to simply cure an ill.

The 16th Century physician, Tabernaemontaus, claimed this of sugar candy: “As a powder it is good for the eyes, as a smoke it is good for common colds, as flour sprinkled on wounds it heals them.” Pierre Pomet continues these claims in his book A Compleat History of Drugs (1712) where he says “Put into the eyes in fine powder, they take way their dimness, and heal them being bloodshot, as they cleane old sores, being strew’d gently upon them.” (Richardson, 2002)

As described by Henry Weatherley in his 1864 book, A Treatise on the Art of Boiling Sugar, the English boiled sugar and inserted sticks into the sweet treat to make eating the sugary substance less messy. This boiled sugary treat on a stick marks the beginning of the first modern sugar lollipop.


Rock Candy

 

Sugar Pop (Rock Candy)

By the mid 1800s, confectioners were selling their sweets on the streets including rock, stick, lozenges, and candies all made by boiling sugar (Richardson, 2002). Many of the sweet sellers were also making these sweets in their cellars.

Lollipop Fact:Linguists say that the term ‘lolly pop’ literally means ‘tongue slap’ (which we find hilarious) since the word for ‘tongue’ is ‘lolly’ in Northern England and ‘pop’ means ‘slap.’ The London street vendor may have coined this term when vending the sweet delight. Although this was likely a soft rather than hard treat it is still considered a possible forerunner to the modern lollipop.

By the time of the Civil War, hard candy was put on the tips of pencils for children. They  loved the candy on a stick so much that in the early 20th century automation technology created a lollipop manufacturing industry. Who is considered the original creator of manufactured lollipops? Well, again as it seems with all of candy history, sucker origin stories abound.

In the first sweet origin version, dating back to the 1880s, Arthur Spangler, from Bryan, Ohio, was one of the first makers of chocolate to put a stick into the caramel candy he was making, probably for the same reason everyone before him did—to avoid packaging and causing a sticky situation in customers’ hands.

Around the same time as Spangler, George P. Smith of Bradley-Smith Candy Company in New Haven, CT decided  to put a stick into the balls of caramel candy he was making. Keep your eyes out for George Smith as we will hear more about him later in this candy story.

Salted Caramel Lollipop                                                                                                                                            Modern Salted Caramel Lollipop

Another candy birth legend involves the owner of the McAviney Candy Company who in 1905 is said to have stumbled upon the lollipop by accident. The company made boiled hard candies that were stirred with a stick, and at day’s end, the owner brought the sticks covered with the candy home for his kids to enjoy.  By 1908, McAviney Candy began to market these “used candy sticks.”

Apple Lollipop                                                                                                                                Candy-Coated Stick (Apple Cinnamon Spoon)

Sucker Machine                                                                                                                                                  Modern Lollipop Machine

In 1908, the owner of the Racine Confectioners Machine Company from Racine Wisconsin, introduced a machine that placed a stick into hard candy at the rate of 2,400 sticks per hour. Owners believed they could produce enough lollipops (although they weren’t called that yet) in a single week to supply the nation’s demand for an entire year. They were called the “all-day sucker.”

Bradely Smith Company                                                                                                                                                     Bradley Smith Company

And, remember George Smith from earlier in this blog, of the Bradley Smith Company. Well he said: “Hey, we started the lollipop!”  Smith took credit for inventing the modern version of the lollipop which he began making in 1908.  Hey, anyone else noticing how 1908 shows up again and again in these candy origin stories?  Well anyways, back to Smith. In 1931, Smith trademarked the term “lollipop,” where legend has it that he used the name of a famous racehorse named Lolly Pop. For many candy historians, the naming and trademarking of “candy on sticks” as lollipops marks the origins of the lollipop.  Hey, notice the word lollipop connecting back to the 17th Century phrase ‘tongue slap,’ remember?

All Day Sucker                                                                                                                                                         Born Sucker Machine

By 1916, a Russian immigrant, Samuel Born, invented an automated process for inserting the sticks into the candy batch. And, this machine was called the Born Sucker Machine. Sweet name for a machine, ey. Anyway, the City of San Francisco considered this machine so creative that, in 1916, they granted him the “keys to the city.”

So there you have it. Lots of tongue lick slapper stories for the birth of the lollipop. But, don’t try to say that last line five times fast–or your tongue will be slapping faster than you can lick to the center of a lollipop.

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If you were saddened to see Astro Pops disappear from the planet in 2004, guess what? They’re back at Candy.com. And the new rockets are WAY bigger than the originals. The modern-day Astro Pop is 2 pounds, the original was 1 ounce.

“It’s got the wow factor, but people can still eat it, not just look at it,” says Ellia Kassoff, CEO of Astro Pops, LLC., the company that acquired the Astro Pop brand from Spangler Candy this past May.

When I talked with Ellia this past Friday, he said he was hugely disappointed when Astro Pops fell off radar in 2004 and decided to bring the rocket-shaped lollipops back to Mother Earth.

Ellia doesn’t have a candy background, so to revive the brand, he’s relying on his passion for the product, his marketing background, and his family tie to the Leaf Confectionery Company. (Leaf introduced Rainblo gum balls and reintroduced malted milk balls under the name Whoppers, among other things.)

“The whole Leaf family is excited to see candy back in the family,” says Ellia.

Back when Spangler owned the Astro Pop brand, it was touted as the “longest lasting lollipop on earth.” To bring the tagline up to today’s standards, Ellia has plans to roll out different sizes of Astro Pops based on how much time you’ve got. (Note to Ellia: I do hope you’ve carved out a good bit of time to figure out how many licks it takes to finish off a range of Astro Pop sizes.)

Ellia says the biggest size will probably be a 5-pound showpiece, which is based on the number of calls he’s getting from people interested in giant Astro Pops for wedding centerpieces. (I would think birthdays, graduations, and bar/bat mitzvahs might be a better fit for a rocket theme, but I certainly have been to my fair share of outer space weddings.)

The 2-pound Astro Pop, which is now available at Candy.com, has the same flavors as the original pop: pineapple (yellow), cherry (red), and passion fruit (green). It is pretty remarkable that passion fruit and pineapple were flavors used back in the M*A*S*H era.


If you’re one of the first 500 customers to buy an Astro Pop on Candy.com, you’ll receive a limited-edition version that’s numbered. And, if you place your order by Thurs., Dec. 17, you’ll have your rocket by Christmas.

Historical Note: In case you’re curious why Astro Pops fell off the planet for a while, here’s the story: This past May at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, Astro Pop, LLC announced its acquisition of worldwide rights for Astro Pops from the Spangler Candy. (Spangler Candy is the company behind Dum Dum Pops, Candy Canes, Circus Peanuts, and Saf-T-Pops.) Spangler bought the brand from Los Angeles-based Nellson Candy Company (the original inventor of the Astro Pop) in 1987, but ended up discontinuing the line in 2004. Many cried. One guy did something about it.

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Last weekend, my niece and nephew popped in for a sleepover with my kids (A.K.A. cousin camp).  As luck would have it, Greg at Candy.com stocked me with all the necessary supplies to make chocolatey Halloween suckers with the kids, ranging in age from 6 to 10.

So, away we went on Saturday night with our science project. We unleashed our sucker sticks, microwaved each pound of orange, white, and milk chocolate discs, and carefully poured our just-barely-melted chocolates into Jack-O-Lantern and Skull chocolate molds.

The kids loved “painting” the eyes, nose, and mouth on the Jack-O-Lanterns and Skulls with chocolate after the pops cooled (we put them in the freezer). We found that small craft paint brushes worked best.

Another tip? Insert Icing Eyeballs into the molds before pouring in the melted chocolate. I didn’t try this trick, but Greg at Candy.com says it works like a charm.

The kids did everything but microwave the chocolate and had at least two hours of fun creating and eating their treats on a stick. The final products might not be Martha Stewart worthy, but not bad for the young chocolatiers.

I am going to experiment with more molds from Candy.com to see what else we can cook up at the Gillerlain household over the holidays. My son is planning on making chocolate suckers for an upcoming fundraiser in lieu of a standard baked goods sale. My thought is to package the suckers in clear mini cello bags and finish them off with a twist-tie bow. Why not give it a whirl?

If you’re in need of an all-ages and edible DIY project, check out Candy.com’s crazy huge selection of inexpensive chocolate molds and hard candy molds. You’ll find molds in the shape of lipstick tubes, teapots, states, business cards, police badges, pineapples, zodiacs, owls, you name it. (Note: You can use Candy.com’s hard candy molds with chocolate, but you can’t use the chocolate molds to create hard candies.)

Lastly, and most importantly, if you’ve experimented with chocolate and chocolate molds, share your creations and tips. Add your comments after this post or on Facebook.

Thanks!

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At the National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago this past May, I stumbled on a confection that seriously did stop me in my tracks. It’s the Melville Candy Company’s lollipops with sour strips.

These rectangular beauties look like stained glass windows and they’re made from scratch in Massachusetts. (I’m not sure which is more earth-shattering: that something is made in the USA or that these lollipops look like chards of stained glass.)

I ended up eating a small stained glass window every night on my train ride home from the convention. I can attest that these lollipops not only look good, but taste good, too. The cherry flavor is my favorite.

I’m an adult, though, and not the best judge, so I corralled my kids and some of their friends who happened to be in our driveway for a taste test. All but one little redhead gave these pops a thumbs up. (Little red wasn’t thrilled about the fact that the green lollipop was lime flavored. She was hoping for apple. Happens.)

The kids agreed that one of the coolest things about these pops is the texture. The sandpapery sour strip encased in a smooth lollipop lends itself to an interesting mouth feel. Bottom line, they’re just fun to eat.

Melville's orange Sour Strip Lollipop could easily double as a Halloween party favor by dressing it up with a simple witch’s hat made out of black construction paper. Or poke several dressed-up pops into a domed-shape piece of Styrofoam, place Styrofoam in a bowl, cover with Oreo cookie crumbs, and say hello to a sweet graveyard centerpiece.

The other cool thing about these lollipops is the stick. Each one includes the product’s ingredients, allergen information, and Melville’s phone number. In fact, all Melville Candy Company lollipop sticks include this information. It’s a great safety feature before and after a lollipop is gobbled.

Melville’s Sour Strip Lollipops come in a variety pack with seven flavors: orange, lemon, lime, cherry, raspberry, grape, and watermelon.

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