CHILDREN standing in the rubble of post–World War II Berlin reached up to catch the parachutes loaded with chocolate and bubble gum falling from the sky. Months earlier American pilots had been their enemies. Now they were dropping food and supplies—and one pilot was bringing candy.
Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen of Utah started the initiative after witnessing the sheer joy German children experienced sharing a stick of gum. His efforts inspired his fellow pilots, who couldn’t drop the candy fast enough. Candy companies back home donated literally tons of sweets to the cause. Children sent letters thanking “Chocolate Uncle” for the “sky food.”
Interviews with Halvorsen gave BYU teacher education professor Michael O. Tunnell (EdD ’86) these and other lively details for his new book, Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot.” Geared for fourth through eighth graders, the book includes dozens of historical photos.
“I hope kids have fun with the story and they also see the message about caring, even for those we had esteemed [to be] our enemies,” Tunnell says. “It wasn’t the candy as much as what it represented: hope for the kids and the adults who had been through such a devastating war. . . . It’s a tribute to what’s best about America.”