You likely don't view Tootsie Rolls as a particularly life-altering candy. But when these marines had thousands of them airdropped to them by accident, they MacGyver'd a way to save their lives using the sticky treat!
When dealing with something as frightening as war, being able to rely on your support system is crucial. This includes receiving vital supplies to fight and stay alive. But of course, history has proven time and time again that things don't always work out in favor of the soldiers! There is no better example than this unbelievable, candy-related screw-up!
Every war has its most famous battle. For the Korean War, it was a fight between the Chinese and the Americans called the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. This battle took place in wintertime, meaning that the Chosin Reservoir was freezing and difficult to navigate. More than anything, the cold weather was devastating to the Americans supplies!
The freezing temperatures proved incredibly harmful to the Americans' weapons, nutrition, and vehicles. The cold rendered their guns faulty. It froze their only food and water sources. The icy ground was also destructive to their bulldozers and other pieces of machinery. All of these factors together gave the Chinese a frightening upper-hand in their first, vicious strike!
China's forces came up with a brilliant but brutal sneak-attack to carry out on the cold, tired, and undernourished American troops. On November 27th, 1950, 120,000 Chinese soldiers were led by Commander Song Shilun to attack a platoon of just 30,000 Americans. It spurred a terrifying, 17-day series of attacks, and the outcome seemed incredibly bleak for American soldiers.
While the American troops hadn't yet lost their spirit, their supplies for war were vanishing quickly. Food, water, and weapons were being used up, frozen, and destroyed. The Americans needed a miracle to last through the unexpected, lengthy battle – especially as their ammunition continued to dwindle. The troops decided to reach out for supplies. They could never have anticipated the shocking contents of their supply drop!
The troops realized that their only hope for lasting through the intense battle was to request an airdrop of ammunition. Knowing that their enemies could be listening in, they decided on a code word for their request: Tootsie Roll. Unfortunately, whoever was on the other end of the cry for help took their plea a little too literally!
The desperate U.S. soldiers were relieved when they received what they thought would be mortar shells. You can imagine their horrified surprise when they found out that they had been sent a box of literal Tootsie Rolls instead! Their distress was hardly eradicated by the surplus of chewy candy. They soon realized, however, that the treat was a blessing in disguise!
Tootsie Rolls are known for their uniquely tacky texture. Who knew that the candy's chewiness could rescue an entire army? In an effort to turn lemons to lemonade, the troops began to devour the cold-resistant, sugary treat. Their spirits were elevated by the candy, but that wasn't the sweet's only talent. The troops soon discovered something about Tootsie Rolls that changed the course of the battle!
The soldiers found that Tootsie rolls adapted to temperatures in an odd way, remaining warm and sticky in their mouth and cold and hard on their own. They decided to use this pliable form to their advantage! The troops created a chocolate putty by chewing on the candy until it was soft, then proceeded to cover holes in machinery as the treat froze again. It may sound simple, but the results of the genius idea were life-saving!
The Americans successfully repaired a number of weapons and vehicles with the Tootsie Roll paste. Once armed and ready, they rushed the Chinese soldiers and managed to create an escape route through their overpowering army. Those lucky few who survived the ordeal with nothing more than candy to show for their victory were henceforth referred to as the "Chosin Few!"