Rebecca Ruth Candy & Tours, Inventor of Bourbon Ball Chocolate Candies. Since 1919. rebecca ruth chocolates & candies inventors of bourbon ball


Click to enlargeThe Ruth Booe Story

Ruth Hanly Booe
(1891-1973)

In 1919, two substitute school teachers in their mid-twenties, Ruth Hanly (Booe) and Rebecca Gooch, decided they were not really very good teachers. The young women had received high praise from family and friends for the gifts of chocolates they had given during Christmases past.

In the year 1919, few women ventured into business. Ruth and Rebecca had the unheard of belief that they could provide for themselves without the financial assistance of a husband. They decided to co-found a candy enterprise. Their head strong beliefs gained them much support as well as much ridicule. In fact, Ruth (like all women) did not get the right to vote in public elections until 1920 (a year after she opened her business).

The newly formed Rebecca Ruth? Candies was an instant success with the help of J.J. King, the owner of the Frankfort Hotel. Closed by prohibition, the girls rented the barroom of the hotel and began dipping chocolates on "Edna's Table".

Ruth and Rebecca had a goodly amount of imagination and an uncommon amount of nerve. It was not unusual for them to strike up a conversation on a street corner or in a silent movie house and loudly extol the virtue of a wonderful new candy called Rebecca Ruth? which they had "tried."

In 1924, Ruth married Douglas Booe (and was thereafter referred to as Mrs. "Boo") and moved to Northern Kentucky where she continued to make candies. In 1927, Ruth gave birth to their son they named John Charles Booe (1927 - 2012). Eight months later, Ruth's husband, Douglas, died an early death due to injuries received during World War I. Ruth, devastated and needing to provide for her new family, moved back to Frankfort.

In 1929, Rebecca decided to get married and sell her portion of the business to Ruth. Just as Ruth became sole owner, the Great Depression hit. Mail orders dropped off and candy was selling by the piece instead of by the box. Not one to be daunted by adversity, Ruth used the slack times to experiment in her kitchen. The most famous piece invented during this period was Ruth's Mint Kentucky Colonel.

In 1933, Mrs. Booe's house and factory located in Jett (a suburb of Frankfort) was destroyed by fire. Ruth lost her home, supplies, money, and equipment. Only the marble slab called "Edna's Table" survived. Ruth's determination was tempered by both fire and rejections as her loan request was turned down by every Frankfort bank. Finally, through the kindness of a hotel housekeeper with the unlikely name of Fanny Rump, she borrowed fifty dollars and started anew.

The idea of mixing candy and bourbon together was accidentally suggested by a dignitary, Eleanor Hume Offutt, at Frankfort's sesquicentennial celebration in 1936. Mrs. Booe worked on the recipe for two years before perfecting the still-secret process for blending bourbon and candy. The unique candy soon became popular and sales boomed until World War II.

During World War II, the government would not provide Ruth with rations for sugar, gas, or other supplies. Ruth's best customers and friends saved their personal sugar rations and coffee tins for use in making her candies.

In 1964, Mrs. Booe retired, passing the business to her only son, John Booe. Ruth lived to the age of 82, passing away in 1973. Ruth has been featured in Eugenia K. Potter's book, Kentucky Women (Big Tree Press), and picked as one of the "Top Ten Franklin Countians of the 20th Century" by the State Journal (December 30,1999).

Taking over the business in 1964, John Booe is noted for bringing the business into the modern age without sacrificing quality. John is further noted for developing the wholesale business and expanding the mail-order business. John also developed additional liquor-filled chocolates, including rum, scotch, cognac, and the Kentucky Irish Coffee. He expanded the factory and increased candy production.

In 1997, John sold the business to his son Charles Booe. John remained active in the business going in daily until November 2011. John Booe passed away on January 30, 2012. Charles Booe continues to run the family business today.



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