The Great Tootsie Pop Star Myth

Seems we all heard some version of this story.

When you were a kid you may have looked carefully at which Tootsie Pop you were choosing. These sweet suckers each come wrapped in various wrappers- not all of which are the same. And, the legend goes, if you find one with a star on it you’ve hit the jackpot! But, what was this jackpot supposed to be? And how did this childhood tradition get started?

children buying candy in 1941
Via: Russell Lee/Library of Congress

These filled suckers were invented in 1931, 35 years after the Tootsie Roll first came on the market. These were far better than other lollipops because they’re filled with chocolate in the center.

Cracking through the hard candy part was a thrill many of us loved, but it signaled a bittersweet reality: the Tootsie Pop you were enjoying was not only at its most flavorful, but it was also nearing its end.

cracked Tootsie Pop
Via: theilr/Flickr

When I was a kid my 3rd grade teacher told us that if you collected the star wrappers and sent them into the manufacturer that you would get free suckers or other goodies sent to you directly.

On the other hand, many accounts of Tootsie Pop fans are that because there was a legend about the stars that many convenience store and gas station owners would give kids a free Tootsie Pop if they turned in their star wrappers. It was obviously good for business, but it turns out it was never part of the official Tootsie Pop plan.

unwrapped orange Tootsie Pop
Via: Mark Bonica/Flickr

According to Tootsie Roll Industries themselves the star shows up on about 17-25% of wrappers (or 1 in 4-6 pops) and appears next to a Native American boy shooting an arrow.

While the makers of Tootsie Pops acknowledges that the stars mean different things to different people (like luck or wishing upon a star), they claim they’ve never offered any promotion or freebies involving the stars on wrappers. It turns out that if you did get a freebie from a store it was likely the store owner either was simply being kind or perhaps they just wanted to sell more Tootsie Pops. It could be that this simple freebie is how the myth got started in the first place.

Tootsie Pops with stars on wrappers
Via: Christine Warner-Morin/Flickr

What rumors or myths did you hear about these tasty treats? Did you ever get any free Tootsie Pops for handing in star wrappers? Or did you take them to the local gas station only to be told that nothing in life is free?

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