To me, one of the most heart-warming food history stories to come out of the terrible time that was World War II, is the story of the Candy Bombers.
Germany was a destroyed and ruined country after the end of World War II. The Allies occupied the country in an effort to keep the peace and help the people of Germany rebuild their country. But as the years after the war dragged on, what the Germans really needed most of all was food.
When the Berlin Blockade was started by the Soviets in 1948, the Western Allies responded with the Berlin Airlift also known as “Operation Vittles”. Several countries offered their Air Forces to help drop food to the starving people of Berlin.
One of those pilots that was stationed to help was Gail Halvorsen.
One day as Mr. Halvorsen was off duty and out sightseeing in Berlin, he stopped to talk to some children through a wire fence. He ended up giving them two sticks of gum that he had with him and watched as they all carefully divided it into tiny pieces to enjoy.
Seeing how the children treasured and enjoyed the candy made Mr. Halverson realize something else was needed. The Berliners did not just need good, nourishing food, they need something that would keep up their morale as well.
And so the next day, Mr. Halvorsen became the first Candy Bomber.
Along with his copilot, Mr. Halvorsen gathered together what candy he could find. After tying it carefully to three handkerchiefs, he flew over where he had talked to the children the day before and dropped it to them. So that they would know it was him, he wiggled the wings of his plane.
The children were delighted and as soon as the world found out what Mr. Halverson was doing, large amounts of candy, including chocolate and gum, were sent to the pilot and more pilots joined him in being Candy Bombers.
If you are interested in reading more about the Candy Bombers, this is an excellent read!