Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2001

A sweet confection

July 19, 2001

When Nellie Tolly walks to the Kwik Shop to buy a candy bar, she doesn't get just any confection.

She picks up the Hershey's Whatchamacallit, a sweet treat she believes she played a part in creating almost 30 years ago.

"I like to pick on them kids about those candy bars," Tolly said of clerks who sell them to her.

Shuffling around to open windows and turn on a fan in her home in Eudora on a hot and humid morning several weeks ago, Tolly shakes her head and laughs about how her story has traveled through Eudora, amazed that someone from the newspaper is interested.

According to Tolly, the story started in LaCygne in the mid-1970s when her children were young. She'd wheel them down to a bait shop where Tolly's friend Darlene worked.

Unable to read or write because of brain damage incurred when she a car ran over her as a little girl in Bonner Springs, Tolly would point to a candy bar behind the counter and tell Darlene "Give me one of those whatchamacallit candy bars," to give to her two small children.

One day when a candy bar delivery driver was in the shop to stock merchandise, Tolly said he told her she should come up with a candy bar and call it a Whatchamacallit.

Tolly and Darlene worked at home putting together recipes, trying out combinations of peanut butter and Rice Krispies.

When the two had something put together, they wrote it down and gave it to the driver.

"We didn't give it no thought for some time," Tolly said.

Although Tolly said she never saw the driver again, when she came in the shop at a later date, Darlene laughed and showed her a candy bar.

Although Tolly couldn't read the letters, she saw a long word beginning with "W" and knew what it had to mean.

"Darlene about died laughing," she said.

A spokeswoman from Hershey Foods said the company, which makes Whatchamacallits, doesn't solicit outside ideas or names for products. The company researches and develops its own products, she said.

"A lot of times, especially when we introduced Hugs, people called in and said they suggested 'Hugs,'" Judy Hogarth said. "A lot of times things are circumstantial."

Tolly insists she isn't upset about not getting credit for what she thinks she started.

"Everybody tells me, 'You should get the money,'" she said. "But this guy was a real funny guy. We didn't think this guy was really going to do it. I never was mad about it."

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