by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
Some folks are amazed how easy it is for me to find military connections for my writing and blog posts. The history of the United States revolves around our men and women patrolling and fighting around the globe and in space to protect our freedom. One of my favorite research topics has always been the role that candy plays in the military.
If you ate M&Ms, Hershey chocolate bars, Tootsie Rolls or Necco wafers this last Friday, you ate candy either developed for and or supplied to our troops in their rations. American troops in Iraq prized the Peanut M&Ms since they didn’t melt in the heat. The Marines at The Chosin Reservoir in Korea were air dropped Tootsie Rolls and it saved their lives. World War II soldiers were given Hershey chocolate bars, Tootsie Rolls, Mars Candy bars and Necco wafers in their rations.
Aside from being treats and sugar for energy, candy was also a way to connect with locals. My Dad told a story about being in occupied Japan on patrol in the neighborhoods. Since he was among the first troops in after Japan’s surrender, locals were afraid of what the American GIs might do to the Japanese.
He said they came down a street and kids were outside playing. The children stopped in fright when they saw the soldiers. Dad called one kid over and gave him some of his Necco wafers. Dad ate one himself and then showed the child through pantomime to share with the other kids. The young one did as he was shown and the kids all scattered inside their homes. Later on, the children would come out to get the treats when troops came by, beginning détente after a brutal war.
Who knew the power of candy for improving world relations? One never knows how one single gesture can affect so many lives. To the Hershey company who produced more than a billion ration candy bars during World War II and Necco wafers and Tootsie Rolls who did the same, I feel it’s my patriotic duty to support these companies year-round.
The astronauts even chose M&Ms as the first candy to go into space. If there is one thing we all have to do on this planet, it’s eat, so it might as well be patriotic candy. Especially on Election Day. Got any military candy stories?