Roasted walnuts have been enjoyed for at least 8,000 years. Archaeologists have found petrified shells of walnuts from the Neolithic period. Clay tablets record that walnut groves were part of the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - 4,000 years ago. The walnut most familiar to us today is the Persian (also known as the English or Italian) walnut. This walnut, once reserved for Persian royalty, was sent to Greece in ancient times.
The Romans acquired it from the Greeks and planted it across Europe. It could be that the Romans reestablished walnut trees in Europe. The last of the glaciers from the Pleistocene era (from 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago) may have wiped out the walnut trees of northern Europe.
Walnuts have been part of dessert for ages. In 14th-century France, a banquet dessert was made of walnuts preserved in spiced honey, stirred once a week for several weeks in preparation. The English ate walnuts with cheese at the end of a meal. Baklava, a well-known Middle Eastern delicacy, is made with layers of filo dough, honey, and ground walnuts.
Russian-born immigrant Samuel Born gets credit for inventing chocolate sprinkles. Born arrived in America about 1910. By 1923 he had established the Just Born Candy Company, a small candymaking factory and retail store in Brooklyn, N.Y. He invited his brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, to join him in business. That left Born free to pursue his many candy-related inventions, such as a lollipop machine.
Another Born invention was tiny, hot-dog shaped chocolate thingies, which he developed in 1930. What to call them? An employee named James Bartholomew operated the machine making the new candy, so Born named the confection in his honor. He called them "Jimmies."
"Jimmies" is a trademarked name, though you'll get a lot of quizzical looks if you ask for jimmies anywhere but in the Northeast. They're also known as chocolate sprinkles, toppettes, shots, fancies, and trimettes.