A True Tootsie Roll Tale of Courage

Dear Reader:

Jakie’s favorite lollipop is a tootsie roll pop. When he gets on the phone with me…it is the first thing he asks if he knows I am coming over soon…”Are you bringing me a tootsie roll pop Boo Boo?” That child is the fastest “licker” in the world …he works furiously to get to the chocolate tootsie roll inside.

A fun little story that goes along with Tootsie Roll Pops…created in 1931… is the story behind a small percentage of the wrappers depicting an Indian shooting an arrow on the wrapping paper. For sixty years rumors have circulated that if you get that particular picture you can trade it in for free tootsie roll pops.

Unfortunately the rumor was false but starting in 1982…the company decided to trade children a copy of the story behind it for the pop wrapper and some individual stores still give children a free pop if they bring in their wrapper.

*Guess what? I had one tootsie roll left over in the bag I keep at the house for the grandchildren and on a whim decided to look for the Indian Chief. Yeah! I am going to try taking it to a store that sells individual lollipops and see if I get a free one…this is kind of exciting!

The other question about the Tootsie Roll Pop (named for the candy creator’s daughter Clare…nicknamed Tootsie) is how many licks does it take to get to the center of the lollipop. Good question. So soon the company made a short commercial on this very question.

Classic Tootsie Roll Commercial – “How Many Licks” – YouTube


On a more serious note…it was boxes and boxes of tootsie rolls that saved some American Marines during the Korean War. It is an amazing story.


United States Marines were stationed at Chang Jin mountain reservoir. The Americans there had taken to calling it the Chosin Reservoir. As you might expect, the conditions left a lot to be desired.

The reservoir temperatures ranged from minus five degrees in the day to minus 25 at night. The coldest temperatures ever recorded. Everything froze. Food rations were difficult to impossible to warm up, and the artillery shells weren’t going off with any regularity.

The 15,000 American troops were facing off against a division of 120,000 men. Strongly outnumbered, outgunned, and under supplied, the troops weren’t sure what to do next.

One thing was clear—if they didn’t get a supply drop, they were goners. Nearly out of mortar shells, the troops called for an airdrop of military supplies using the code name they’d established for artillery: Tootsie Rolls.

To their surprise, when the airdrop arrived, it was filled not with ammunition, but with actual Tootsie Rolls!


The sugar boost turned out to be just the jolt the troops needed. Realizing that when the candy was warmed up, it became a kind of putty, the troops were hit with a brilliant idea. The chewed-up Tootsie Rolls would become pliable when warm, but they would quickly freeze again when exposed to the freezing wind.The chocolate flavored candies froze in the inhuman temperatures, but the great thing about Tootsie Rolls is that they’re edible even when they’re frozen.

The soldiers started using the putty-like-substance to patch bullet holes in vehicles, hoses, and other equipment. 

With their equipment fixed, the men collected their injured and frostbitten comrades, punched a hole through the enemy lines, and retreated to safety. The men who survived the battle started calling themselves the “Chosin Few” in commemoration of this once in a lifetime experience.

How Tootsie Rolls Saved the Troops – YouTube

So until tomorrow…When Veterans Day rolls around again this fall…I plan to give out tootsie rolls to veterans… along with a rolled up copy of this story. I can’t think of a better way to thank a Veteran.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

More “Pretties” from the Garden




About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to A True Tootsie Roll Tale of Courage

  1. bcparkison says:

    Cool story. I like tootsie rolls too…the roll not the pop.


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