NEW YORK — Tootsie Roll Industries is now in play for buyers willing to pay the richest valuation in confectionery history.

The $2 billion maker of chewy chocolates and Junior Mints rose more than 7 percent Wednesday as the death of long-time Chief Executive Officer Melvin Gordon sparked speculation the Chicago-based candy maker could become a takeover target. His 83-year-old widow, Ellen Gordon, whose father once ran the business, will take over.

She was the largest Tootsie Roll shareholder even prior to her husband’s death, and the Gordon family holds a controlling stake in the company.

Tootsie Roll trades at about 20 times its profit. That gives it a higher price tag than any other similar-sized public candy maker in the last decade, even before accounting for a premium.

One buyer that may make sense is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Tootsie Roll has the brand durability that the billionaire tends to like in his acquisition targets, according to James Armstrong, who oversees Berkshire shares as president of Henry H. Armstrong Associates.

Chocolate makers Hershey Co., Nestle or Mars Inc. would likely get more out of a deal, though, and could help expand the brand globally, said Tom Russo, a partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner.

“It’s a tremendous trademark,” Russo, whose firm owns both Berkshire and Nestle shares, said in a phone interview. “The buyer who ends up with this will end up with an icon that I do believe can be exploited far more broadly and deliver far more delight in far more ways.”

Barry Bowen, Tootsie Roll’s treasurer, said in an emailed statement that “Mrs. Gordon always felt our best prospects were to remain independent.”

Buffett didn’t respond to a request for comment left with an assistant Wednesday. Hershey and Mars also didn’t respond, while a representative for Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland, declined to comment.

As of March, Ellen Gordon controlled the largest percentage of Tootsie Roll’s Class B shares, which carry 10 times the voting power of a common share, according to regulatory filings. That’s in addition to her almost 27 percent stake in the publicly traded shares.

Investors are wagering she may be more likely to consider a sale after the death of her husband. For potential buyers, the opportunity to buy a candy maker that’s long been considered off the market may be very tempting.