I know gumdrops are available all year round, but they are the featured candy on the shelf at the check-outs in my local grocery store at Christmas time. I look at them longingly and then wonder, are they spicy or fruity. I don’t happen to like the fruity ones so if I pick up a green one expecting a refreshing wintergreen flavor and end up with a limey one, it upsets my taste buds expectations. If I do succumb to temptation the visual presents, I read the label before putting down my cash. There’s nothing good about an upset taste bud.

Hubby and I took the grandson to a Gingerbread House display at the George Eastman Museum. Yes, that’s the Kodak George Eastman. It was actually a fundraiser for the museum and anyone could make a house to donate to the cause. Some were by local bakeries and others by girl scout troops or private individuals. The degree of expertise of the makers was quite apparent as was the use of gumdrops on most of them. They really were very attractive. They are sold in a silent auction that goes on from Thanksgiving weekend to mid-December with the money going to the museum. We bid on two of them, but lost both.

The National Day of Calendar tells us credit for the modern gumdrop goes to chemist and candy manufacturer Percy S. Truesdell.  According to articles after his death in 1948, Truesdell took the once hard, poorly flavored glob of sugar and turned it into the smooth, chewy delight we enjoy today.  While at the University of Ohio, the chemist altered the consistency of the of the candy by experimenting with the amount of starch used.  He later worked for the Snyder-Chafee Company until 1915.  In 1916, Truesdell founded and incorporated the P.S. Truesdell Candy Manufacturing Company.  At his death, he became known as the Gumdrop King. 

I find it interesting that a chemist developed the modern gumdrop. I guess it took someone who understood the cooking process of the ingredients to be able to come up with the right mix to end up with a chewy delight. I can imagine the mess and difficult clean-up during his experimentation. I’ll bet he had willing tasters though.

Whichever type of gumdrop you like, today is the day to eat as many as you want. Perhaps take some to work as a treat for your co-workers or have some for dessert after dinner. They keep almost indefinitely so they won’t go to waste. Be sure to get the right kind as they all look alike.