The Surprising Place The Name Lollipop Actually Came From

They are sweet, they are colorful, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Of course, we're talking about lollipops, one of the most iconic candies of all time. The sugary sweet confection on a stick has been licked, chomped, and sucked all around the world for centuries — or perhaps millennia, according to some accounts. And like many inventions, the true origin of the hard candy is up for debate.

As with most candies, the history of the lollipop has many sweet layers. According to Candy Favorites, one of the earliest versions of the lollipop is believed to have likely been created by cave people who collected fresh honey from beehives with sticks. Archaeological studies have also discovered that ancient Chinese, Arab, and Egyptian civilians noshed on confections made with local fruits and nuts, which they swirled in honey as a preservative. Being resourceful, they inserted small twigs into the treats for more convenient enjoyment.

Fast-forward to 17th century England, when a more modern variety of lollipop was invented. During this time, sugar was becoming more readily available to the general public and was being used as a common ingredient in several everyday recipes, especially desserts. The English made candies from boiled sugar and — as you might have guessed — inserted small sticks into them (via Candy Creek).

So, where did the word 'lollipop' come from?

The word lollipop is both satisfying and amusing to say. "Loll-i-pop!" It rolls off the tongue, if you will. In fact, linguists have determined that the term "lolly pop" translates to "tongue slap" — which stems from Northern English slang. It is believed that street vendors in London coined the word, as customers with a sweet tooth would slap the candy onto their tongues to relish in the fruity, sweet flavors (via Candy Favorites).

Another popular tale takes place in early 20th century United States. Around 1908, a man named George Smith, the owner of the McAviney Candy Company in New Haven, Connecticut, produced hard candies and mixed the syrupy, viscous batches together with sticks until they hardened. He called them "Lolly Pops," which he named after his favorite racehorse, Lolly Pop. He eventually trademarked the term in the year 1913 (via Connecticut History). Around the exact same time in Racine, Wisconsin, the first-ever automated lollipop production was introduced to the world by the Racine Confectionary Machine Company. The candy was efficiently made at a super fast rate by a state-of-the-art machine: 2,400 sticks per hour, to be exact, reports The New Times.

While the lollipop has a history that goes back several hundred years, its popularity has never fallen to the wayside. Over the years, brands have popped up and have redefined the candy biz, including Tootsie Pops, Blow Pops, Chupa Chups, and Dum Dums.