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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 1896

As we get close to the end of February 2016, I'm sure all of us in the upper parts of North America are ready to bid it adieu, if only for the reason that we are sick of snow and below freezing temperatures.  March is definitely a more optimistic month - if for no other reason than the fact that we get more daylight in the day thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

But there's still enough time in the month for us to have one more Tuesday Timeline at least.  And I guarantee you that the subject for this topic is going to be a sweet one!

For now, let's take a look at what happened on this date in history.

1455 - Listed as the traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible - the first book printed in the West with movable type

1836 - The Battle of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas

1861 - After an alleged assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland, Abraham Lincoln arrives in Washington D.C. in secrecy

1870 - Mississippi is readmitted into the United States five years after the end of the American Civil War

1886 - Charles Martin Hall produces the first samples of man-made aluminum

1889 - American director Victor Fleming (d. 1949) is born in La Canada Flintridge, California

1898 - Emile Zola is imprisoned following his writing of the "J'Accuse" letter that accused the French government of antisemetic beliefs

1905 - The Rotary Club is founded in Chicago

1927 - Calvin Coolidge signs a bill by Congress that establishes the Federal Radio Commission

1941 - Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg produces and isolates the element of plutonium

1944 - Singer-songwriter Johnny Winter (d. 2014) is born in Beaumont, Texas

1945 - U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman reach the summit of Mount Suribachi and are photographed raising the American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima

1954 - The first inoculations of children with the Salk vaccine - a vaccine designed to combat polio - is administered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1974 - The Symbionese Liberation Army demands another $4 million in ransom money to release Patty Hearst

1980 - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declares that Iran's parliament will decide the fate of the hostages taken during the Iran Hostage Crisis

1991 - Ground troops cross the Saudi Arabia border into Iraq beginning the ground phase of the Gulf War

1998 - An outbreak of tornadoes in Florida kill 42 people and damages over 2,600 structures

1999 - Gaitur, Austria is destroyed by an avalanche; 31 people lose their lives

2010 - Criminals dump nearly 2.5 million liters of diesel oil into Italy's Lambro River, sparking an environmental disaster

And celebrating a birthday this 23rd of February are the following people; Hans Herrmann, Linda Cristal, Peter Fonda, Ron Hunt, Doug Moench, Marc Garneau, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Patricia Richardson, Brad Whitford, Howard Jones, David Sylvian, Chris Vrenna, Daymond John, Niecy Nash, Paul Anthony Stewart, Rondell White, Michael Cornacchia, Kelly Macdonald, Adam Hann-Byrd, Aziz Ansari, Emily Blunt, Skylar Grey, Samara Weaving, and Dakota Fanning.

Okay, so what date will we be going back in time to this week?  Well, hold on to your hats because we're going back in time at least one hundred years plus a bit!

Yep, you're not reading that date wrong.  We are taking a look back at February 23, 1896!

You know, I can't say for sure that I know what the year 1896 was like because I missed it by eighty-five years!  But I imagine it was a simpler time with simple pleasures.  And one of those pleasures just happened to be invented on this very date.

You remember how the last entry that I wrote before this one talked about commercial mascots and spokespeople, and I talked about the behind the scenes stories about them?  Well, while trying to come up with ideas for the topic, I was reminded of a commercial that used to air on television when I was a kid that I absolutely loved.  In fact, I'll post it below.

I'm fairly sure that it takes a lot more than three licks to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll pop - though nobody I know has ever taken the test to find out for sure.  I know I attempted to do it once, but lost interest after lick #176. 

But the topic is not about the delicious candy confection known as the Tootsie Roll Pop.  Those things didn't come out until 1931.

It was what was inside the pop that will serve to be our main topic.  That morsel of chocolate flavoured taffy like substance that has caused great divide amongst confection connoisseurs such as myself.  Some absolutely love it for its classic taste and history, while others can't stomach it.

Myself?  I like it...but I like the fruit flavoured version better.

Love it or hate it, the Tootsie Roll celebrates its 120th birthday today!

First manufactured on February 23, 1896, the founder of the Tootsie Roll, Leo Hirshfield, had a goal in mind when coming up with the design and flavour.  He wanted to come up with a candy that tasted like chocolate (likely inspired by the fact that the Hershey bar had been created just two years prior), but could withstand the heat of the hot sun during the summer months.  He achieved this by making the Tootsie Roll have the same composition and texture as a piece of taffy or a caramel.  He made it this way so that the shipments from warehouse to store would arrive without melting.

And as of 2016, it is estimated that over 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made daily in the United States.  Not bad for a little chocolate candy, huh?

Here are a few more pieces of trivia about this delightful treat.

Did you know that the Tootsie Roll was the very first penny candy to come individually wrapped?  It's true, although the only Tootsie Rolls that were available for a cent at that time were the little tiny ones, also affectionately known as "Midgees".

Did you know that Tootsie Rolls come in other flavours other than chocolate?  It's true!  There are standard Tootsie Fruit Rolls that are available for purchase right around Halloween (and may be available at some supermarket checkout counters), and they come in flavours such as vanilla, lime, orange, cherry, and lemon?  I actually am one who prefers the fruit flavoured ones over the original chocolate flavour, though I will eat both.  I'm partial to the lime and vanilla ones.

Did you know that Tootsie Rolls were certified kosher in 2009?  That means that people can have Tootsie Rolls for Hanukkah and other Jewish celebrations!

Did you know what the ingredients of a standard Tootsie Roll are?  Well, the current list includes sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated soybean oil, condensed skim milk, whey, cocoa, soy lechtin, as well as natural and artificial favouring.  Okay, so it's not quite all natural, but as long as you don't eat too many, you won't get a belly ache.

Did you know that several people have attempted to come up with the definitive answer for how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?  The answers range from 200 to almost 3,500 licks!  I guess we really are no closer to finding out the answer, though YouTube sensation Ryan Higa filmed a video of himself trying to figure it out and claims that it is 700.  For me, I gave up after 176 licks, so he could very well be right!

Did you know that twenty million Tootsie Roll Pops are manufactured each year?  That's a lot of chances to find out what the answer is in regards to the Tootsie Roll pop question!

Did you know that the company actually reuses some of the previous day's batch of Tootsie Rolls to make new batches the following day?  Now that's recycling!

Did you know that during the Korean War, the U.S. Marine Corps were accidentally sent crates of Tootsie Rolls instead of ammunition?  It's true!  I have to wonder how they fared in combat.  I suppose the confusion comes from the fact that at that time, "tootsie roll" was code for mortar rounds.

Did you know that Tootsie Rolls once had a comic mascot named Captain Tootsie?  The comic strip was printed in newspapers until at least the 1950s.  Not quite the success that Bazooka Joe comics were, but a good try, nonetheless.

Finally, did you know that Tootsie Roll had its very own jingle, sung by a couple of kids?  It's true, and here's the proof!

Happy 120th birthday, Tootsie Rolls!  

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