The Millstone Times June 2022

Jimmies or Sprinkles Either Way, They Go Great with Ice Cream! By Pam Teel

When we were young, we used to call sprinkles, Jimmies. Don’t know if it’s a territorial thing depending on where you were brought up, but after we moved to Central Jersey, we just called them sprinkles. In reality, no one can really claim the origin of how the name jimmies came about in reference to chocolate sprinkles. Were they indeed first made by the Just Born com pany in Brooklyn and named after an employee, or according to the brand, Mr. Sprinkles, the name “jimmies” wasn’t inspired by Just Born at all, but was in fact a name given to the sugary confections after Dr. Sidney Farber created a charitable children’s cancer organization, and named it after one of his patients called The Jimmy Fund, which still exists today. Sup posedly, in the late 1940’s, this newest invention from Just Born made its way to the city of Boston, where local ice cream favorite Brigham’s reigned supreme. Brigham’s was founded by Edward Brigham, his uncle being Dr. Farber, and his ice cream shop was allegedly the first to promote jimmies and include them on their ice cream. Brigham’s aided this fund by charging an extra penny for chocolate sprinkles on a cone in what would eventually be called “jimmies”, after Dr. Farber’s patient, by everyone in the New England area. Others have claimed that jimmies were named for a mayor named Jim Conelson, or a Jimmy O’Connell who was extra generous with sprinkles; or for a guy who (maybe) ran the choco late-sprinkles machine at the Just Born candy factory. Of all these theories, only the last seems remotely plausible, but still questionable. Just Born, the candy company that still provides us with our marshmallow Peeps and Mike and Ikes, was founded in Brooklyn in 1923, according to its official history, though patriarch Sam Born had already come up with candy innovations like a machine to put sticks into lollipops. The company’s website claims that “jimmies, the chocolate grains sprinkled on ice cream, were invented at Just Born, and named after the employee who made them.” (Company spokesmen have mentioned a Jimmy Bartholomew, known as Jimmy to his co -workers who operated the machine that created Born’s newest invention, tiny sugary candy toppings.) Born decided to name the candies after his employee and the name “Jimmies was born and is still a trademarked name today. But company histories often include a fudge factor, and this claim of invention seems dubious since chocolate sprinkles, so called, were already popular in the 1920s, according to newspaper archives. The Nashua, N.H., Telegraph advertised a treat made with chocolate sprinkles in 1921, before Just Born was born.

Later that decade, the sprinkles showed up in Ottawa and Spokane newspapers, and by 1927, Sunshine was producing a Chocolate Sprinkle cookie topped with marshmallow and sprinkles. (There’s even a laxative consisting of “tasty Swiss-like milk chocolate sprinkles”; a 1928 ad in the Pittsburgh Press says it has given “Thousands of Pennsylvanians...the Glorious Complexion of a Regulated Body.”) Just Born may still deserve credit for coining jimmies, but that claim remains to be proven. The company’s website has a photo of two large cans of its product, one labeled “chocolate grains” and the other “jimmies” — but the jimmies can bear a zip code dating it to 1963 at the earliest. That’s decades after the earliest print evidence for jimmies: a December 1930 ad in the Pittsburgh Press in which a local food emporium offers sponge cake “with creamy butter frosting and chocolate jimmies.” They go on to describe jimmies as tiny chocolate candies.” Whatever the source of the name. Jimmies/Sprinkles are enjoyed all over the world and in a variety of ways. In England, sprinkles are known as “hundreds-and-thousands. In certain regions of the U.S., sprinkles are also called “jimmies” and are smattered heavily on pretty much any dessert item. In the Netherlands and Australia, sprinkles are used as a topping for bread. In the Netherlands this is called “hagelslag,” or “hail-storm” in Dutch. In Australia, this is referred to as “fairy bread.” Hagelslag is typically made with chocolate sprinkles, while fairy bread usually features the rainbow variety. There are a few different claims as to who invented the first batch of sprinkles–many believe it was the French or the Dutch, but others claim it was truly an American invention. Wherever the name “jimmies” came from, we can all agree that they make everything better. The only things we know for certain is that they came on the scene at the start of the 20th century, have many different names, are now enjoyed all over the world, and you can get them in rainbow colors too. Which do you prefer chocolate or rainbow sprinkles?

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