Hey, Remember – The Legend Of The Indian On Tootsie Pop Wrappers?


For generations, kids has believed the legend that finding an Indian shooting a star on a Tootsie Pop wrapper earns them a free Tootsie Pop – it isn’t true


Kids love lollipops! Well, everyone loves them. What’s not to like them. There’s not many things in life better than spending some quality time going about your day with a sweet tasting sucker in your puss.

While Dum-Dums and Charms might be a delightful treat for kids, one of the most popular lollipops are Tootsie Pops. Originally coming in five flavors of chocolate, cherry, orange, grape and raspberry, it isn’t just an ordinary lollipop, but embedded inside is the sweet chocolate-flavored soft tootsie roll center.

On top of all that, there is a potentially secret prize that came with it. If you were lucky enough to unwrap your Tootsie Pop, flattened it out and found on the wrapper an image of an Indian shooting a star, you could redeem that wrapper for a free Tootsie Pop!

That Indian shooting a star was like the kid version of hitting the powerball! Kids across the land would closely examine their Tootsie Pop wrapper studying it closely to see if that Indian was anywhere on it.

Vintage-Tootsie-Roll-Pops-wrapper-box-adIt’s a great, fun idea! But it’s all untrue. It has been an ongoing urban myth that has plagued Tootsie Pops for generations and would leave millions of excited kids who spotted that Indian and star on their wrappers and went to redeem it for their free Tootsie Pop disappointed.

Tootsie Roll Pops were first introduced in 1931. They became popular during the depression because of its low price. They have continued to be embraced by candy lovers world-wide and Tootsie Pops have grown to be the number one candy-filled lollipop in the world.

Tootsie Roll Industries have long since expanded on the original five flavors, that now include strawberry watermelon, lemon, caramel and even wild mango berry!

From their first release to today, there have never been any kind of promotion or prizes associated with Tootsie Pops. Yet, somehow the legend grew very early on that if you were lucky enough to get a pop wrapped with an Indian shooting a star on it, you could walk into any local candy store or Tootsie Roll headquarters itself, hand it over and get a free Tootsie Pop.

It’s a mysterious legend that appears no one knows exactly how it began. Some speculate this imagined lore gained traction in the 1930s when gift promotions and coupons began to gain more popularity with consumers.

Legend-of-Indian-shooting-star-wrapper-free-Tootsie-Roll-PopIn the 1950s, when popular television shows and movies featured ‘cowboys and Indians’ perhaps it helped ignite the idea of that image of an Indian (or more politically correct term today to use ‘Native American’) held a special significance for the lucky lollipop sucker. Kids gossiped and talked, others heard about this supposed hidden image and soon every other kid knew to examine their Tootsie Pop wrapper very carefully.

No one will ever definitely know where it all began, but the folklore of that Native American shooting at the star on a Tootsie Pop wrapper has taken root. The Tootsie Roll company still receives about 150 letters a week from those lucky kids sending them the precious wrapper they obtained and asking for their free Tootsie Pop in return.

For years, the Tootsie Roll company would send letters regretting they can’t honor the request, I’m sure breaking the hearts of Tootsie Pop fans. Then in 1982, the company created the ‘Legend of the Indian Wrapper’, a fable about the fictional promotion.

Tootsie-Roll-Pops-Legend-of-the-Indian-WrapperThe fairytale explains how a magical  Indian Chief helped a candy maker to succeed in putting the Tootsie Roll center into the Tootsie Pops. He would continue to check in on the candy maker and how making the Tootsie Pops were going. When his image appears on a wrapper it means he had personally checked that particular Tootsie Pop.

The hope from the company was that the children would enjoy the story so much, it would help alleviate their disappointment of them not getting a free Tootsie Pop. 

When the rise of the internet came to be, this legend was no longer limited to playgrounds and treehouses. Messageboards, blogs, articles, news reports and websites discuss the legend and you can see how far back it goes. Some Tootsie Pop lovers even share their own stories of store owners having made good on this fictional deal for children and honoring this phantom deal by giving a free Tootsie Roll Pop for that illusive wrapper. 

While the Tootsie Roll company won’t participate or endorse the never-ending legend of the Tootsie Pop wrapper, they do somewhat embrace the long history of it. They have since changed the name of the tale to the more PC sounding ‘The Legend of the Shooting Star’. It’s one of their most popular pages on the company’s website.

Tootsie-Roll-Pop-Wrapper-Indian-Shooting-Star-Legend-Uncut-sheetIn reality, there is nothing special about that Native American shooting at the star. It has been part of the print packaging of Tootsie Pops for decades. There are images of kids playing baseball, fishing, pushing a baby carriage riding a tricycle, a scooter and an Indian Chief shooting at a star, 

With the process of the long wrapping sheets being cut and how the individual Tootsie Pops are wrapped in them, the company explains that the image of the Indiana appears in “1 in every 4 to 6 Tootsie Pops”. So, there’s nothing particularly rare about finding one. 

You have about a 30% chance of finding that Indian Chief shooting at the star. It’s better odds than winning the Powerball!

The legend of the Indian on the wrapper has held such a magical underground fascination by kids, today you’ll find products with him adorning it. T-shirts, notebooks, stickers, pins hats. While none of the legend is technically true, the perception through a child’s eyes of his image was something to signal something extra special continues to dazzle candy lovers and it has been carried into adulthood. 

He’s sort of become the candy equivalent of a lucky rabbit’s foot or finding a four-leafed clover.

Legend-of-Indian-shooting-star-Tootsie-Roll-Pop-wrapper-special-merchandiseSo, if you do have a Tootsie Pop wrapper with that Indian shooting at a star, don’t hold out hope that the Tootsie Roll company will be sending you a free pop for your lucky find. This isn’t the Willy Wonka movie and that wrapper doesn’t represent anything significant. It’s fun to dream though.

One mystical thing about Tootsie Roll Pops is still the unanswered question of how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. Mr. Owl was asked that question in 1972 and despite many studies that have been conducted, the world has still no gotten a conclusive answer. 

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