When we snapped a photo of this unique donation to Re-Source York, it didn’t take long before we took advantage of an opportunity to stretch our minds and satisfy curiosity about gumball machines. This led to some interesting factoids about the history of vending machines [did you know the first ones were in ancient Greece and dispensed holy water?] and also some neat facts about chewing gum.
The following is an extract from “The Encyclopedia of New York City” *
…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.
Seems Mr. Adams was truly a Re-Sourceful kind of guy. We’re certainly glad he didn’t dump his failed project into the East River as he’d intended after spending over a year trying to make rain boots, toys, masks and bicycle tires with the unsuitable rubber substitute.
*Edited by Kenneth T. Jackson Yale University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-300-05536-6