Melvin Gordon, who led Tootsie Roll Industries for more than five decades, has died at age 95. Gordon, the company's chairman and CEO, died yesterday in Boston after a brief illness, says Brooke Vane, a spokeswoman for the company's public relations firm. Gordon ran the Chicago-based confectioner for 53 years, overseeing the manufacture of 64 million Tootsie Rolls a day and other favorites including Junior Mints, Charleston Chews, and Tootsie Pops. Gordon worked a full schedule until last month, the company says. Gordon's wife of 65 years, Ellen Gordon, has been named chairman and CEO by its board, the company said today. She has been company president and chief operating officer.
"Melvin's life represented the very highest values in business, wisdom, generosity, and integrity," she said in a statement. Her husband celebrated the Tootsie Roll's 100th anniversary in 1996 by touring the Chicago factory with an AP reporter. He scooped up one of the warm, gooey candies from the assembly line and tasted it, saying: "There's nothing like a hot Tootsie Roll." He also boasted that Tootsie Rolls were almost indestructible: "Nothing can happen to a Tootsie Roll. We have some that were made in 1938 that we still eat," he said. "If you can't bite it when it's that old, you certainly can lick it."