When I was growing up, Tootsie Rolls were the candy that remained in the Trick-or-Trick bag until the Snickers bars, M&Ms, and Reeses cups were gone. To me, they were the candy of last resort, a tired brand that had outlived its turn-of-the-century heydey by decades, and a bland taffy that couldn’t possibly compete with the peanut butter, caramel, or nougat confections on display at the grocery store.
But, you know, tastes change.
A while back I discovered vanilla Tootsie Rolls (which, it turns out, are awesome), and rediscovered the subtly-flavored chocolate originals. They, too, are better than I had credited them. Well, and Tootsie Rolls have a lot more utility than your average candy bar. A friend’s daughter, for example, once used a Tootsie Roll as a substitute for wax to blunt the edge of a stray wire from her braces (let’s see Reeses do that!). You can play with Tootsie Rolls, too! I saw someone make a Lincoln Log-style table-top cabin out of them. They’re pliable, but firm enough to hold whatever shape you give them—sort of like Play-Doh. You can sculpt them into things like, oh, roses for example. Tootsie Rolls may just be the most multi-functional candy in the world.
I first saw Tootsie Roll Roses when my friend Sue Goldsmith came to my house for lunch one day not too long ago. She had wrapped it up with a bow and brought it to me as the most darling little hostess gift I’d ever seen. While the rose was a surprise, it was, at the same time, so Sue. One of her hobbies is making beautiful filled chocolates, so Tootsie Roll flowers just seemed like a natural extension of her confectionary talents. She actually taught me how to make chocolates several years ago, but I was never quite able to approach her level of skill. Sue is a maker; she sews, she creates. I spent this morning at her house, and as we were running around trying to stage the photos for this post, we unearthed a beautiful crocheted lace bowl she made. It was so pretty, I was tempted to write a post just on that.
Sue and I go back a long way. She was my boss at one time, and when she ultimately left our company for greener pastures, I took over her position. She had been a great mentor for me, and my own approach to managing teams was shaped in part by my experience working for her. That was long ago, and since then we have both moved on to other employers. We actually hadn’t seen each other for several years until, one day, we ended up in line together at the local Walmart. We discovered that we had both moved and were now living only minutes away from each other. We resumed our friendship—lucky me! Incidentally, Sue is no stranger to interrupted friendships; she and her fiance were high school sweethearts who hadn’t seen each other for decades until a chance meeting. Now they’re planning to marry next year!
How to Make Tootsie Roll Roses
Tootsie Roll roses look fancy, but they’re actually easy to make. I asked Sue to show me how, and I took pictures along the way. If you’d like to give them a try, here’s what you’ll need:
Tootsie Rolls (you’ll need 4 candies to make one rose)
Cellophane wrappers and ribbon (if desired)
Halloween is just a few short weeks away, and there will be Tootsie Rolls in your candy stash. The chocolate ones are classic, but they now come in a variety of flavors and colors. Imagine a bouquet of vanilla and chocolate roses, or a psychedelic combination of oranges, blues, and greens. Let yourself go, and enjoy.
Special thanks to Sue Goldsmith for helping me with the “rose” project and also for letting me turn her house upside down looking for photo props.
Until next time…