This Might Be How Baby Ruth Got Its Name

Baby Ruth chocolate bars are one of those staples of the candy aisle and grocery store checkout areas that you see packaged in their signature red, white, and blue wrappers beside the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey's bars, and M&M's. Filled with caramel, peanuts, and nougat, Baby Ruth has been manufactured for more than a hundred years under several different ownerships.

Curtiss Candy Company, owned by Otto Schnering, introduced the Baby Ruth in 1921. According to History, Schnering tweaked the ingredients of a confection known as Kandy Kake, which consisted of chocolate and peanuts with a pudding center, creating the Baby Ruth candy bar we know today. Those remotely familiar with baseball history might assume the candy bar derives its moniker from the most famous home run hitter of the era, Babe Ruth.

Over the next few years, Baby Ruth sold extremely well, which has been in part attributed to an apparent association with the popular Yankees slugger, who had already ascended to superstar status by 1921. Schnering also sold the candy for five cents, half the price of most contemporary chocolate bars. The business recorded more than $1 million a month in sales from Baby Ruth in 1926 (via History). Despite these lofty numbers and the apparent link to his name, Babe Ruth was never an official spokesperson, an oversight not lost on the legendary baseball player.

A disputed origin story

In 1926, Babe Ruth decided to endorse a rival chocolate bar manufactured by the George H. Ruth Candy Company called Ruth's Home Run Bar which the company registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Curtiss sued for copyright infringement, eventually winning the case, with the courts stating that the name was too similar to Baby Ruth (via History). Since the 1920s, the Curtiss Candy Company has claimed that the true origin of the name Baby Ruth is not the baseball legend but the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, who was nicknamed "Baby" Ruth Cleveland, according to myth debunking and fact-checking website Snopes.

Snopes cast doubt on this official explanation and rates the claim as false, pointing to her death from diptheria at age 12, 17 years prior to the naming of the Baby Ruth candy bar, making her a most peculiar choice of namesake. Everyone knew who Babe Ruth was in 1921, but Ruth Cleveland's name would have been a fading memory in the public's mind.

Yet, this remained the company line regarding the naming of Baby Ruth. And the baseball connection has continued. Baby Ruth, owned by Nestlé, even became the official candy bar sponsor of Major League Baseball in 2006 (via The New York Times). Is it "Baby" or the "Babe?" Much like an umpire, it's up to you to make the call.