lollipop main entry: lol•li•pop variant(s): or lol•ly•pop
etymology: perhaps from English dialect lolly tongue + pop
1: a lump of hard candy on the end of a stick
2: British: a round stop sign on a pole used to stop traffic (as at a school crossing)
Lollipops (sometimes spelled lollypops) show up in novels by Charles Dickens and other 19th century writers. Back then, the word referred to sweet lozenges without a stick. Lollipops as we know them today began to appear in the United States right before the Civil War; small bits of sugar candy were put on the ends of pencils for children to nibble on.
In the 1880's, a New Haven, CT maker of chocolate caramel candy found that putting the candies on a stick made them easier to eat. One customer, George Smith, who was himself in the confectionery business, liked the idea and applied it to the hard candies that he and his partner, Andrew Bradley, made at the Bradley Smith Company.
In addition to being a candy maker, George Smith enjoyed going to the races and at that time was impressed with a horse named Lolly Pop. Bradley Smith adopted the moniker for its candy on a stick and patented the name in 1931. During the Depression, the company stopped making candy for several years and thus the trademark could not be enforced. Since then, lollipop has been the generic term for the treasured treat, regardless of size, shape or flavor.
Source: Spangler Candy Co. Archives
A Racine, Wis., manufacturing company claims credit for inventing the first lollipop machine. Racine Confectioners Machinery Co. answered an East Coast candy maker's call to have a machine make hard candy on a stick in 1908. The company created a machine that automated the lollipop making process and could make 40 lollipops per minute. However, others claim Samual Born was the first to automate the lollipop-making process. Lollipop manufacturing grew independently in California and in 1916 Samuel Born invented the Born Sucker machine.This machine automatically inserted the stick, which added to the popularity of the confection. San Francisco awarded Born the keys to the city for his invention.
Over time, lollipops have had different looks. They have been traditional hard candy on a stick and hard candy on a ring, some include bubble gum or chocolate as a surprise center and some even spin or glow. Whether traditional or novel, the lollipop is still enjoyed by many people.