| Part One - Timeline
Part Two - Thomas Adams
history : How we got chewing gum
On Staten Island, a former general
introduced chicle to a local inventor named Thomas Adams, who imported
a large quantity and tried to convert the product chemically into an inexpensive
History of Chewing Gum
During the 1860's, when Thomas Adams
switched from photography to a number of trades that brought him little
money but served as an outlet for his inventive streak, Santa Anna went
into exile from Mexico and boarded with Thomas Adams on Staten Island.
of Vending Machine
Thomas Adams first tried to change
chicle into synthetic rubber products, before making a chewing gum. Thomas
Adams attempted to make toys, masks, rain boots, and bicycle tires out
of the chicle from Mexican sapodilla trees, but every experiment failed.
One day in 1869, he popped a piece of surplus stock into his mouth and
liked the taste. Chewing away, he had the idea to add flavoring to the
chicle. Shortly after, he opened the worlds first chewing gum factory.
In February 1871, Adams New York Gum went on sale in drug stores for a
Thomas Adams tried numerous trades
before becoming a photographer during the 1860's. During that time, General
Antonio de Santa Anna went into exile from Mexico and boarded with Thomas
Adams in his Staten Island home. It Santa Anna who suggested that the unsuccessful
but inventive photograper experiment with chicle from Mexico. Santa Anna
felt that chicle could be used to make a synthetic rubber tire; and he
had friends in Mexico who would be able to supply the product cheaply to
The following is an extract from
"The Encyclopedia of New York City"
Edited by Kenneth T. Jackson
Yale University Press, 1996,
...chewing gum manufacturers, formed
as Adams Sons and Company in 1876 by the glass merchant Thomas Adams (1818-1905)
and his two sons. As a result of experiments in a warehouse of Front Street,
Adams made chewing gum that had chicle as an ingredient, large quantities
of which had been made available to him by General Antonio de Santa Anna
of Mexico, who was in exile in Staten Island and at whose instigation Thomas
Adams had tried to use the chicle to make rubber. Thomas Adams sold the
gum with the slogan "Adams' New York Gum No. 1 -- Snapping and Stretching."
The firm was the nation's most prosperous chewing gum company by the end
of the century: it built a monopoly in 1899 by merging with the six largest
and best-known chewing gum manufacturers in the United States and Canada,
and achieved great success as the maker of Chiclets.
The following is a quote from a 1944
speech given by Thomas Jr.'s son Horatio at a manager's banquet for the
American Chicle Company.
"...after about a year's work of
blending chicle with rubber, the experiments were regarded as a failure;
consequently Mr Thomas Adams intended to throw the remaining lot into the
East River. But it happened that before this was done, Thomas Adams went
into a drugstore at the corner. While he was there, a little girl came
into the shop and asked for a chewing gum for one penny. It was known to
Mr. Thomas Adams that chicle, which he had tried unsuccessfully to vulcanize
as a rubber substitute, had been used as a chewing gum by the natives of
Mexico for many years. So the idea struck him that perhaps they could use
the chicle he wanted to throw away for the production of chewing gum and
so salvage the lot in the storage. After the child had left the store,
Mr Thomas Adams asked the druggist what kind of chewing gum the little
girl had bought. He was told that it was made of paraffin wax and called
White Mountain. When he asked the man if he would be willing to try an
entirely different kind of gum, the druggist agreed. When Mr. Thomas Adams
arrived home that night, he spoke to his son, Tom Jr., my father, about
his idea. Junior was very much impressed, and suggested that they make
up a few boxes of chicle chewing gum and give it a name and a label. He
offered to take it out on one of his trips (he was a salesman in wholesale
tailors' trimmings and traveled as far west as the Mississippi). They decided
on the name of Adams New York No. 1. It was made of pure chicle gum without
any flavor. It was made in little penny sticks and wrapped in various colored
tissue papers. The retail value of the box, I believe, was one dollar.
On the cover of the box was a picture of City Hall, New York, in color."
In 1888, an Thomas Adams' chewing gum
called Tutti-Frutti became the first gum to be sold in a vending
machine. The machines were located in a New York City subway station.
page > Timeline
of Chewing Gum.
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