Where did Lollipops originate?
Today, lollipops are one the most diverse and best-selling types of candy out there. But where did this sweet treat on a stick first come from?
History of the Lollipop
The oldest precursor to today’s lollipops comes from ancient Africa and Asia. Archaeologists believe that ancient Chinese, Arabs, and Egyptians all produced fruit and nut confections that they "candied" in honey, which serves as a preservative, and inserted sticks into to make easier to eat. During the Middle Ages, the nobility would often eat boiled sugar with the aid of sticks or handles. In the 17th Century, as sugar became more available in Europe, the English enjoyed boiled sugar candy treats and inserted sticks into them to make them easier to eat, too.
In America, the history of the first lollipops has been distorted over time. There is some speculation that lollipops were invented during the American Civil War. Others believe some version of the lollipop has been around in America since the early 1800s. George Smith of New Haven, Connecticut claimed to be the first to invent the modern style lollipop in 1908. He used the idea of putting candy on a stick to make it easier to eat, and initially lollipops were a soft, rather than hard, candy.
With the birth of automation in the early 20th Century, we first begin to see the emergence of the lollipop as we know it today. In 1908, in Racine, Wisconsin, the Racine Confectionery Machine Company introduced the first automated lollipop production with a machine that put hard candy on the end of a stick at the rate of 2,400 sticks per hour. Around 1912, Russian immigrant Samuel Born invented a machine that inserted sticks into candy, called the Born Sucker Machine. The City of San Francisco considered it so innovative that they awarded him the keys to the city in 1916.
Linguists say the term "lolly pop” literally means "tongue slap,” and it’s believed that London street vendors may have coined this term as they peddled the treat. Some also suggest that "lollipop” may be a word of Romany origin related to the Roma tradition of selling toffee apples on a stick. "Red apple” in the Romany language is loli phaba. However, in America, George Smith trademarked the name in 1931 and he reportedly named the treats after a popular racing horse, Lolly Pop. The name "lollipop” is now in public domain.
Lollipop Fun Facts
- Dum Dum Suckers were given their name because it was believed to be a name that any kid could easily pronounce.
- The Dum Dum Mystery Flavor pop is a mixture of two flavors that come together when the end of one batch of candy meets the beginning of the next batch.
- The world’s largest lollipop maker, Tootsie Roll, turns out 16 million lollipops per day.
- Lollipops can be used to carry medicines. Flavored lollipops containing medicine are marketed for children, and are also used in the military due to the fast-acting ingredients.
- In 1958, the song "Lollipop" by female vocal quartet The Chordettes reached #2 and #3 on the Billboard pop and R&B charts, respectively.
- Lollipops are also featured in songs like "The Lollipop Guild” from The Wizard of Oz, and "The Good Ship Lollipop” from the 1934 Shirley Temple movie Bright Eyes.
- The world’s largest lollipop was made by See's Candies in 2012. It was 7003 pounds, over 4 feet in length and 5 feet in height, and had a 12 foot stick.
- Chupa Chups are the most popular lollipops in the world. The Chupa Chups logo was designed by famous artist Salvadore Dali.
- The title character of the popular 1970s TV show Kojak was often shown sucking on his trademark lollipop. The lollipop made its debut in the Season 1 episode "Dark Sunday," broadcast on December 12, 1973. Kojak lights a cigarette as he begins questioning a witness, but thinks better of it and sticks a lollipop (specifically, a Tootsie Pop) in his mouth instead.
- National Lollipop Day is July 20.