A shipment of ‘Tootsie Roll’ candies prevented a battalion of Marines from being frozen to death


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The ‘Tootsie Roll‘, although little known in Spain, they are one of the most famous sweets in the United States. They have characteristics of both a candy hard as a bubble gum and, the original, is made from cocoa, making it the perfect snack for lovers of the chocolate.

According to the official history of the company, the founder, Leo Hirshfield, an Austrian immigrant son of a candy producer, started in the industry working in a small candy store in Manhattan, New York, in 1896. However, the creation of the ‘Tootsie Roll‘did not arrive until 1907 And since then his fame has only increased.

However, these candies were not only known worldwide for their taste. On numerous occasions a seemingly insignificant detail has played a decisive role in history. That is the case of the ‘Tootsie Roll‘.

Korean war

As revealed Javier Sanz, winner of the 2011 Bitácoras Award for the Best Cultural Blog, in «Histories of History», in 1950, when in full Korean war US troops were fighting under the UN mandate against the Korean People’s Army, a shipment of candy ‘Tootsie Roll‘, by the purest of coincidences, he managed to save a whole battalion of marines to die frozen.

In September 1950, after the decisive victory over the Korean People’s Army, Seoul was liberated and it seemed that the war was coming to an end.

American troops continued on the peninsula to carry out what was originally to be the final offensive. A group of about 20,000 soldiers unfolded around the reservoir Chosin, an artificial lake north of Korea in the Hamgyong Mountains that supplied hydroelectric power. Everything seemed calm but what the allies did not know was that China had mobilized some 100,000 troops from the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA), who had crossed the border to help North Korea.

The United Nations troops deployed in Chosin were seen surrounded by eight Chinese divisionsAbout 80,000 soldiers, so the Marines were very clearly outnumbered. To this fact was added a siberian cold front with extreme temperatures down to -37 °. Food, medical supplies, and batteries froze, guns jammed, and soldiers began to freeze to death.

The Marines defended themselves as best they could against the successive Chinese attacks but they soon ran out of ammunition. For this reason they requested by radio that more be sent to them, using the key word, what was it ‘Tootsie Roll‘.

When the boxes that should have been loaded with projectiles fell from the sky when they were parachuted, they verified what appeared to be a death warrant: someone had misunderstood the keyword and had actually sent a shipment of chocolate candies instead of the requested ammunition.

However, the ‘Toosie Roll‘ended up being their salvation since they became the only food available to hungry troops, and because chocolate is moldable, they used some of it to plug holes in drums or gas tanks.

After 16 days of siege, the group managed to withdraw towards the port of Hungnam and, although China considered it a victory then, the truth is that the losses of the United Nations were much less than those of its army.

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