His wife Ellen, whom he married in 1950, was the daughter of William Rubin, then the president of the Sweets Company of America, the maker of Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops. Though the Rubins did not establish the Sweets Company of America, the family gained control during the 1930s.
Together, the couple is described as having maintained tight control over the business, and ran the organization like a privately held company despite being publicly traded. Court documents indicate that the Gordons owned a large majority of the company’s voting stock.
Their expenses included a Chicago apartment that cost more than $10,000 to rent each month, and the “lavish use of the company plane” to travel between the apartment and their home in Massachusetts.
During his tenure, Gordon expanded Tootsie Roll Industries’ product line to include Blow Pop, Junior Mints, Dubble Bubble, Andes, Charleston Chew, and others.
Gordon is survived by his wife, who is expected to take over his role at the company, and their four daughters.
“Melvin's life represented the very highest values in business, wisdom, generosity, and integrity. Tootsie Roll has seen great growth and success during his time as chairman,” said Ellen Gordon in a statement.