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Lollipop History

Candy Gift Ideas is still tracking down the complete history of the lollipop, but it appears the origin of this hard candy treat is controversial. At least, credit for mass production of lollipops is contested by Wisconsin and California, while the origin of the "candy on a stick" concept is even less clear. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English ( Oxford University Press 1996), a lollipop is a "hard sweet on a stick. [origin uncertain]". Perhaps the lollipop is rather like the wheel - we know someone was first to invent it, but we'll never know who it really was.

Automating Lollipop Making. Racine, Wisconsin, claims credit for the first sucker speedup. According to their web site, "When an East Coast candy maker wanted to find a way to put hard candy on a stick in 1908, the Racine Confectioners Machinery Co. answered the call. The local company invented a machine to automate the process of making suckers, fast becoming a favorite treat. The machine could make 40 lollipops a minute, and the candy company figured it could produce in a week all the suckers it could sell in a year."

Born's Lollipop Machine. On the West Coast, however, lollipops received a major boost from Samuel Born. He was a Russian immigrant who invented a lollipop-making machine that automatically inserted the sticks. In 1916, San Francisco gave this inventive candy maker the keys to the city for inventing the Born Sucker Machine. The machine mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops. Born also invented chocolate sprinkles, or "jimmies" for ice cream cones, cementing his reputation among candy lovers everywhere. If Born didn't actually invent lollipops, he undoubtedly greatly advanced their cause with his lollipop stick-inserting machine.

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We don't have enough data to resolve WHO automated the lollipop-making process, much less who was the first to put a stick into hard candy to convert a lozenge into a lolly pop. Nevertheless, here are some facts from the National Confectioners Association:

  • The idea of a sweet treat was first invented by cavemen who ate honey from bee hives.
  • During ancient times the Egyptians, the Arabs and the Chinese prepared confections of fruit and nuts candied in honey. (Might they have stuck a stick in this confection, creating the first lollypop?)
  • In Europe during the Middle Ages, the high cost of sugar made sugar candy a delicacy available only to the wealthy. (And if you want to stretch your sugar budget, what better way than making lollipops? Not only can a lollipop be consumed more slowly, it is far less messy to put aside for a while to stretch the enjoyment even longer!)
  • Boiled sugar candies were enjoyed in the seventeenth century in England and in the American colonies.
  • Sweet-making developed rapidly into an industry during the early nineteenth century through the discovery of sugar beet juice and the advance of mechanical appliances. Homemade hard candies, such as peppermints and lemon drops became popular in America during that time.
  • As noted above, in the early part of the 20th century, automated lollipop machines increased the productivity of lolly making dramatically.
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If other phases of candy making history interest you, don't forget to check out our chocolate gifts section, including a page of chocolate history.


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