Insiders control the publicly traded company with more than 50 percent of its shares owned by Gordon, his wife and a nephew, according to FactSet and the Chicago Tribune. Gordon and his wife oversaw the closely guarded company, granting few interviews and releasing little information in its quarterly reports, according to the Tribune.
Gordon ran the company, which has a $1.2 billion market cap, for 53 years.
Under Gordon's leadership, the well-known Mr. Owl was born and tried for years to find out just how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Gordon also grew the company's brands to include DOTS, Charms, Junior Mints, Sugar Daddy and Charleston Chew.
Share prices rose after being temporarily halted in midday trading.