HARTFORD, CT – Should the lollipop beat out PEZ for the coveted designation as the Connecticut state candy? A pair of fourth-grade students offered compelling testimony in support of the stick-mounted sweet during a Friday legislative hearing.
“Please support bill HB 5498 so that everyone in Connecticut can fill their days with laughter, love and lollipops,” Jacqueline Glick, a young student from Fairfield, told lawmakers on the Government Administration and Elections Committee.
Glick and her colleague Amelia Neubauer appeared before the committee via Zoom. Both girls were students last year of third-grade teacher Joan Robb at Timothy Dwight School in Fairfield, where students envisioned a state government that officially recognized the lollipop, first invented by a New Haven resident in 1908, as the state candy.
In written testimony, Robb said the bill’s success would be a high point in an otherwise challenging elementary school experience due to the pandemic.
“These children’s last fully ‘normal’ school experience was in kindergarten,” Robb wrote. “They’ve been remote, hybrid, socially distanced from one another, and masked for most of their school experience; yet this group is amongst the most excited invested learners that I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching.”
The young activists lobbied their Fairfield area lawmakers who wrote the proposal into a far-reaching bill: An Act Designating Various Days, Weeks and Months, Portland as the Golf Capital of the State, a Shelter Pet as the State Pet and the Lollipop as the State Candy.
However, the lollipop may have some competition. Although first invented in Austria, PEZ candy has been manufactured in Orange, Connecticut since the 1970s and the company operates a visitor center there to this day.
During the hearing, Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, asked the girls to explain why PEZ shouldn’t be up for top candy consideration.
“We decided to pick lollipops not PEZ because PEZ is a brand and the state can’t technically favor a brand,” Amelia Neubauer said. “Also, I’m allergic to nuts and lollipops have always been a safe, sweet treat for me.”
Although Vahey seemed convinced, other lawmakers were not yet willing to put their positions on the record.
“I’m going to withhold an official endorsement of this plan until sometime later. Again, I wouldn’t want to give away too much,” Rep. Gregg Haddad, D-Mansfield, said. “I’ll listen to the testimony today but I think you’ll find I’ll be sympathetic.”
However, keen observers may have noted Haddad brandished what appeared to be a cherry-flavored Tootsie Pop as he spoke.