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The History of Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum
Part Two: Thomas Adams
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• Part One - Timeline
• Part Two - Thomas Adams
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Pop 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 synthetic rubber.
The 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.
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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 world's first chewing gum factory. In February 1871, Adams New York Gum went on sale in drug stores for a penny apiece.

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 Adams.

The following is an extract from "The Encyclopedia of New York City"
Edited by Kenneth T. Jackson
Yale University Press, 1996,
ISBN 0-300-05536-6

...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.

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