Leo Hirshfield

Leo Hirshfield

Class of 2007

Leo Hirshfield, the founder of Tootsie Roll Industries, migrated from Austria and introduced Tootsie Rolls to the candy industry on February 23, 1896 from a small store in Brooklyn, NY.

He named the candy after his daughter, Clara, whose nickname was Tootsie, and Leo was the first to individually wrap the candies.

This novel idea revolutionized the candy industry and made Tootsie Rolls stand out among competitors’ candy because it they did not stick together and saved retailers time when trying to scoop candy from bulk containers.

Tootsie Rolls also proved very popular with consumers because of their unique chewy and chocolatey consistency and Hirshfield decided to grow by merging with another local candy manufacturer, Stern & Staalberg. The move proved successful and by 1922 the company, then called Sweets Company of America, had made its way to the New York Stock Exchange.

Today Tootsie Rolls remain a staple of many people’s childhood memories of candy, and in some places, the chocolatey confection still sells for a penny.

The company has grown from a small store in Brooklyn to a multi-million dollar manufacturer that is successful in more than 75 countries, including those in South and Central America, Europe and Asia.

Some of the company’s other brands include Andes Mints, Mason Dots, Sugar Daddy, Junior Mints, Charms, Blow Pops and Dubble Bubble, all of which have helped to make Tootsie Roll Industries one of the largest candy companies in the world.

Leo passed away January 15, 1922.