George Hamilton IV burst onto the national music scene in 1956 with this million-selling teen ballad. He scored four more Top 40 hits and toured with Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, and the Everly Brothers before switching to country music in 1959.
Hamilton was a 19-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, when he recorded this song. A talented country music singer, he'd been trying for several months to persuade Orville Campbell, owner of the Chapel Hill record label Colonial Records, to give him a recording contract.
When a young singer-songwriter named John D. Loudermilk submitted this song under his "Johnny Dee" pseudonym, Campbell decided it was just right for Hamilton, who agreed to record it on condition that he could sing his self-penned rockabilly song "If You Don't Know I Ain't Gonna Tell You" for the B-side.
After ABC-Paramount acquired "A Rose And A Baby Ruth" from Colonial, it got a national release and reached #6 on the pop chart.
Lyrically, this tells the story of a two teenage lovers who've had a quarrel. The guy tries to make up with the girl by sending her a rose and a Baby Ruth candy bar.
The Baby Ruth candy bar comprises peanuts, caramel, and nougat, covered in chocolate. Launched in 1920 by the Curtiss Candy Company, they claimed it was named after President Grover Cleveland's baby daughter, Ruth. More likely, it was a sneaky way of linking with baseball star Babe Ruth without having to pay him any royalties.
When "A Rose And A Baby Ruth" became a huge hit, the Curtiss Candy Company sent John D. Loudermilk a custom 100-pound Baby Ruth candy bar. He donated it to an orphanage where they cut it up with an axe to distribute to the children.
In the UK the song was issued as "A Rose And A Candy Bar" because the Baby Ruth chocolate bar was unknown there.
Artists who have covered the song include Johnny Maestro & The Crests in 1960 and Al Kooper
10 years later.