Now a few weeks after the renuion, it has taken on a life of it's own

Old films have surfaced, soon to be edited and distributed and several new guys have been found.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Black Jack Gum

Black Jack Gum history... William Finley Semple of Mount Vernon, Ohio obtained the first chewing gum patent on December 28, 1869. Patent number 98,304 claimed the "combination of rubber with other articles, in any proportions adapted to the formation of an acceptable chewing gum." Semple never commercially made any chewing gum.

Development of Chicle Gum came with a big breakthrough in 1869 from another source. Exiled Mexican former president and general, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (infamous for his victory over the Alamo defenders) was living in New Jersey. He brought a ton of Mexican chicle with him, in hopes of selling it.

He persuaded Thomas Adams of Staten Island, New York to buy it. Adams was a photographer and inventor. Adams intended to vulcanize the chicle for use as a rubber substitute. But his efforts at vulcanization did not work. However, Adams noticed that Santa Anna liked to chew the chicle (the Mayans chewed chicle many years previously).

Disappointed with the rubber experiments, Adams boiled a small batch of chicle in his kitchen to create a chewing gum. He gave some to a local store to see if people would buy it. People liked his gum, and before long his business was quite successful.

In 1871 Adams received the first patent on a gum-making machine and began mass producing a chicle-based gum. His first gum ("Snapping and Stretching") was pure chicle with no flavoring, but sold well enough to encourage Adams in his plans.

He began to experiment with flavorings, beginning with sarsaparilla. In 1884, he began adding a licorice flavoring and called his invention Adams' Black Jack, the first flavored gum in America. At this time, chewing gum changed shape from lump or chunks, to sticks. It was also the first gum to be offered in sticks as we know it today. It was an instant success.

Black Jack Gum ad

Black Jack Gum was sold well into the 1970s, when production was halted because of slow sales. Adams became part of the American Chicle Company. This company was eventually purchased by the Warner- Lambert Company, part of Pfizer. In 2003 Adams was purchased by the Cadbury Company.

Occasionally Adams (maker of Chiclets) has whipped up a batch including other old time favorites Beeman's and Clove. The last batch was in the fall of 2005.

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