On the surface it would appear that the box of candy labeled “gumdrop,” carries a depressing story, a fall from grace. Although the Tootsie Co. claims to still produce four billion pieces a year, it is obvious the once widely bought confection of the early 1900s, has been reduced to a very niche fan base today. It would appear that way, anyway, but look on that candy shelf a little closer. You see, I believe the gumdrop is really the original living legacy of the gummi!
Before the worm, before the patch of kids who are sour, even before the bear itself, there was the gumdrop. Mulit-colored, multi-flavored, and stuck in your molars for days. The influence of the gumdrop is everywhere. Unfortunately, there’s no hard data that biography’s the gumdrop. A lot of people throw around the name Percy Trusdale as the inventor in 1801. That doesn’t work for me though, because the prime ingredient of a gumdrop is pectin or gelatin. Pectin wasn’t discovered until 1825 and gelatin, although invented in 1682, wasn’t found in a practical form on any grocery shelf until 1902 when Jell-O hit the quarter million dollar mark. The first versions of the gumdrop were early 1920s, but the one we all know didn’t hit the shelf till 1945 — DOTS .
Jeesh, enough history! Let’s get to the sweet meat. You have to kick today off with DOTS. Only 130 calories per 11, they’re sold in movie theater concessions, and when chosen over everything else, it’s because they come in the cheapest at $4 per box. I got a box at the movies once when I was fifteen and strapped for cash. Then I spent the next week waiting for my tongue to heal from trying to root the goo out of my molars by shoveling my tongue into them.
There are, of course, other variations on the theme. The Jujubes and Jujyfruit both came out of the 1920’s, and since have fallen even further than DOTS. In fact, an online search demonstrates that Jujubes have lost their identity all together as a candy, with results ranging from the actual jujube tree that carries no affiliation with the candy, to RuPaul’s new TVshow that I can only assume is about a ragtag gang of antisemitic drag queens.
The only remaining die hard fans of the gumdrop are the ones who boast on the “Spice” varieties, but I’m pretty sure claiming loyalty to the spice gumdrop is equivalent to the beer drinker who decries the merits of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sure there’s better beers, but it’s more fun to say that PBR is his favorite.
Now, I know there are probably gumdrop loyalists out there that would take issue with me lumping Jjujbes, Jujyfruits and DOTS into the category of gumdrop, but my rationale for doing so is that if at the end of the snack, my teeth look like this, those were gumdrops. I tell you this, all three meet that definition!
See you Thursday for National Almond Day!