Tootsie Roll is a classic, grainy, cocoa-flavored taffy. It is widely believed that Tootsie Roll was invented in 1896 by the Austrian-born immigrant Leo Hirschfeld, who sold the candies in his Brooklyn candy shop, and later merged with a larger candy company to expand his business. However, contemporary records, trademark filings, and advertising suggest that this account is not entirely accurate.
Stern & Saalberg, a midsized New York candy manufacturer, trademarked the name “Tootsie Roll” in 1909; the filing specifies the first use in commerce in 1908. The company marketed the candy heavily beginning in 1910. At that time, Hirschfeld was the head candy maker for Stern & Saalberg, where he had worked since at least 1894. Stern & Saalberg was reorganized in 1917 as The Sweets Company of America; Hirschfeld, who had risen to the position of vice president, left in 1922 and committed suicide in 1924.