Love Sour Patch Kids? You’re not alone.
The sugary candies are exceptionally popular, but there are a few things you didn’t know about them.
First, they’re a fairly old candy—but maybe not as old as you’d think. The Allen Candy Company of Hamilton, Ontario began producing the soft candies in the 1970s, using a recipe perfected by Cadbury and the Malaco Licorice Company of Sweden.
However, the treat didn’t bear the Sour Patch Kids name until 1985. Why the name change? The company reportedly wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the Cabbage Patch Kids, a popular fad in the mid-80s.
But here’s the real secret: Red Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish, another popular gummy candy, share the same basic recipe. The only significant difference is the addition of tartaric acid, which gives Sour Patch Kids their sour taste.
That’s probably not a coincidence, though. Both candies’ histories tie back to Malaco, a Swedish candy maker, and they’re both currently produced by Cadbury-Adams/Mondale’s International.
If that’s not mind-blowing enough, here are a few other strange candy facts:
In the Korean War, the United States Marines accidentally ordered hundreds of crates of Tootsie Rolls.
This was because the U.S. military nicknamed mortar rounds “tootsie rolls.” The mistake was costly, as the Marine Corps ran completely out of mortar sections during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.
“We were calling for ammunition and other supplies, and they heard some of us shouting in the background, ‘send us more Tootsie Rolls. So when they did the parachute drop, we were like, ‘What the hell is this?’ ” said marine Stanley Kot. “But I survived for two weeks on Tootsie Rolls.”
In Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.,” the eponymous alien was supposed to eat M&Ms.
Someone from Amblin Productions approached Mars, Inc. about the scene, and a representative of Mars refused to greenlight the product placement.
Why? Nobody knows for sure, but there are plenty of theories; perhaps the company didn’t want their candy associated with extraterrestrials. Perhaps they simply couldn’t afford the tie-in that year.
In any case, someone missed a major opportunity. Amblin Productions turned to Hershey’s, asking instead to use Reese’s Pieces. The resulting scene was iconic, and sales of Reese’s Pieces skyrocketed.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
You could ask a cartoon owl, but that’s not very scientific.
According to Tootsie Roll Industries, at least three scientific studies have set out to answer the age-old question. A student at the University of Michigan designed a custom “licking machine” that averaged 411 licks before touching the center of the Tootsie Pop.
Engineering students from Purdue University built a machine of their own, which averaged 364 licks, but twenty members of the group volunteered to test their tongues against the machine. The human volunteers averaged 252 licks.
“Based on the wide range of results from these scientific studies, it is clear that the world may never know how many licks it really takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop,” wrote a representative of Tootsie Roll Industries.