Tootsie Won't Roll Over

February 18, 2002 ( - Tootsie Roll Industries has denied socially conscious investor, Calvert Asset Management Co.'s request to change the wrapper of its Tootsie Pop.

Calvert, which owns 103 Tootsie shares, complained that the lollipop’s wrapper is demeaning to Native Americans because it features a picture of little boy wearing a traditional headdress and carrying a bow and arrow, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business.

The group asked the candymaker to vote on changing it at the company’s annual meeting.

However, the candymaker, which launched the lollipop in 1931, countered that Calvert’s proposal “deals with a matter relating to the company’s ordinary business” and argues that companies shouldn’t get involved in the minute details of the business – a position supported by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Tootsie Roll, which, facing increased competition from Hershey Foods Corp. and Mars Inc., recently reported its first annual profit decline in 20 years, states that the issues raised in Calvert’s proposal are best addressed by management, rather than shareholders.

Also, agreeing with the candy company’s attorneys, the SEC recently decided not to intervene in the matter.

However, Calvert is undeterred and is considering pursuing other options, such as raising the issue during the Q&A session at the annual shareholder meeting.