• Laureta Huit

Pallets of Tootsie Roll candies parachuted from the sky to the First Marine Division!

During World War II while many confectionaries had to reduce or even stop production, Tootsie Roll was able to expand. Tootsie Rolls were selected for inclusion in rations due to the recipes ability to stay fresh for long periods of time at variable heat or cold. Tootsie Rolls provided “quick energy” and were universally liked. Not only were they a delicious morale boost in the battlefield, but there are also numerous accounts of the humble Tootsie Roll saving lives.

Tootsie Rolls saved the lives of U.S. Marines in the Korean War. In 1950 at the North Korean Chosin Reservoir, First Marine Division were engaged in battle. The Marines were running low on munitions. They called for an air drop of 60mm mortar rounds, the code name for these bullets was “Tootsie Roll”. The radio operator did not have the code sheets that would tell him what a “Tootsie Roll” was, but knew the request was urgent; so, he called in the order. When the supply drop fell from the sky Troops were surprised to find boxes filled with the actual candy. Although in desperate need of ammunition the Tootsie Rolls provided were well received. They provided nourishment to the depleted troops, beyond that, their fuel lines had frozen and cracked. They were stranded.

They discovered the texture of the tootsie roll is very hard when frozen, but easily warms in the mouth becoming pliable. They began warming Tootsie Rolls by the dozen to create a soft pliable material that would seal the cracks in the fuel lines, and when frozen in place became the durable patch, they were desperate for. The Tootsie Patch was successful, and they were able to fight their way down very treacherous road filled with bridged mountain passes, making their way to transport ships waiting for them along the coast. Over two weeks of incessant fighting, the 15,000-man division suffered 3,000 killed in action, 6,000 wounded and thousands of severe frostbite cases. But they accomplished their goal and destroyed several Chinese divisions in the process. The survivors of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir refer to themselves as “The Chosin Few” crediting Tootsie Rolls with their survival.


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