A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 07, 2009
Chewing Gum

"Chewing gum” is often said to have been invented by Thomas Adams (1818-1905) at Staten Island in the 1860s, but that’s part of a larger story. By at least 1828, Americans chewed on spruce gum, produced from Maine. In 1866 at Sailor’s Snug Harbor, Staten Island, Thomas Adams was introduced to exiled Mexican leader Santa Anna, who chewed on some chicle. Thomas asked for a piece of the chicle, a substance that Central Americans had chewed for centuries. 

Adams had, at first, tried to manufacture rubber products from the chicle. After failing at those ventures, Adams decided that chewing gum was the best use for chicle. Adams New York Chewing Gum was produced in 1871; other trademarked products included “Black Jack” (1884) and “Chiclets” (1899).

‘Chewing gum” had existed and had been popular in America by the 1860s, but Thomas Adams produced the first chicle gum that made chewing even more enjoyable for many.


Wikipedia: Chewing gum
Chewing gum is a type of confection traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber. For reasons of economy and quality, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle. Chicle is nonetheless still the base of choice for some regional markets, such as in Japan. Chewing gum is a combination of a water-insoluble phase, known as gum base, and a water-soluble phase of sweeteners, flavouring and sometimes food colouring.

History
Gum chewing in various forms has existed since at least the Neolithic period. A 5,000 year old chewing gum with tooth imprints, made of birch bark tar, has been found in Kierikki, Yli-Ii, Finland. The bark tar of which the gums were made is believed to have antiseptic properties and other medicinal helpers. Ancient Mayans utilized a gum base, chicle, for making a gum-like substance. Despite the ingredients (aromatic tar and smashed insect grease), the Mayans utilized this gum extensively. Women in particular used this gum as a mouth freshener. Also, the Florentine Codex included text referring to the use of chicle by women.

Later forms of chewing gums have been used in Ancient Greece. The Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree. Many other cultures have chewed gum-like substances made from plants, grasses, and resins. The American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees. The New England settlers picked up this practice, and in the early 1880s attempts were made to commercially market spruce gum. Around 1850 a gum made from paraffin wax was developed and soon exceeded the spruce gum in popularity. Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was imported from Mexico for use as a rubber substitute. Chicle did not succeed as a replacement for rubber, but as a gum it soon dominated the market. Chicle gum, and gum made from similar latexes, had a smoother and softer texture and held flavor better. Most chewing gum companies have switched to synthetic gum bases because of their low price and availability. According to their website, Glee Gum is the last gum manufacturer in the United States to produce gum using all-natural chicle. In 1848, John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.

William Semple filed the first patent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.

About.com: Inventors
The History of Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum
Part Two: Thomas Adams

By Mary Bellis
(...)
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.”

“The Straight Dope” by Cecil Adams
The amazing history of chewing gum
May 14, 1976
(...)
The scene now shifts to Staten Island, New York, 1870. Thomas Adams, a commercial photographer (no relation to the present writer), has spent the last two years of his life experimenting with a strange substance he has imported from Mexico, the sap of the Chiclezapote tree. Adams hopes to develop the goo into a substitute for rubber. But he has failed again and again. He sits at his workbench a broken man, staring blankly at the wad of chicle.

Suddenly, on a blind impulse, no longer caring for the consequences, the despondent Adams reaches out, tears off a slimy corner of the mocking mound, and pops it into his mouth. Eureka! The Chiclet is born!

Little did Adams realize that the Mexicans Indians had been chewing chicle for centuries, having no use for it in the form of automobile tires. No matter. Adams scooped up his chicle and went out to look for backers. Many scoffed, but the undaunted Adams opened his plant anyway. Success was instantaneous. By 1890, Adams’ six-story factory employed 250 workers.

Unwittingly, Adams had spawned a national craze. Gum chewing, like hula hoops and the Beatles, swept the country, and was soon being condemned as evil by politicians, clergymen, and women’s groups.

The New York Sun editorialized in 1890: “The habit has reached such a stage now that makes it impossible for a New Yorker to go to the theater or the church, or enter the street cars or the railway train, or walk on a fashionable promenade without meeting men and women whose jaws are working with the activity of the gum chewing victim. And the spectacle is maintained in the face of frequent reminders that gum-chewing, especially in public, is an essentially vulgar indulgence that not only shows bad breeding, but spoils a pretty countenance and detracts from the dignity of those who practice the habit.” However, when it became clear that no definite link between gum chewing and white slavery could be established, the furor died down.

Wikipedia: Chicle
Chicle is the natural gum from Manilkara chicle, which is a tropical evergreen tree native to Central America. The tree ranges from Veracruz in Mexico south to Atlántico in Colombia. It was traditionally used in chewing gum. While the Wrigley Company was a prominent user of this material, today there are only a few companies that still make chewing gum from natural chicle. This is because by the 1960s chicle was replaced by butadiene-based synthetic rubber which was cheaper to manufacture.

Chiclets are named after chicle.

The name “chicle” comes from the Nahuatl word for the gum, tziktli [’ʦikt͡ɬi], which can be translated as “sticky stuff”. Alternatively, “chichle” may have come from the Mayan word, “tsicte”. Chicle was well known to the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs and to the Maya (Amerindians), and early European settlers prized it for its subtle flavour and high sugar content.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: chewing gum
Function: noun
Date: 1850
: a sweetened and flavored insoluble plastic material (as a preparation of chicle) used for chewing

(Oxford English Dictionary)
chewing-gum (orig. U.S.), the hardened secretion of the spruce-tree, or other insoluble substance, chewed, after the manner of tobacco, by boys and girls
1850 Chicago Daily Democrat 25 Oct., *Chewing gum! A new and superior preparation of Spruce Gum.
1871 MARK TWAIN Sketches (Hoppe) Your little brother’s ‘chawing gum’.
1882 Chicago Advance 6 Apr. 219 They are the ‘chewing-gum of literature, offering neither savor nor nutriment, only subserving the mechanical process of mastication’.
1883 St. James’s Gaz. 16 Nov., Petroleum [is used]..to make the substance known as ‘chewing-gum’.
1949 Economist 5 Nov. 996/2 The Soviet delegate..accused the United States of giving exports of chewing gum priority.

Google Books
The American Journal of the Medical Sciences: The Official Journal of the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation : an International Journal of Biomedical Research
By Southern Society for Clinical Investigation (U.S.)
Published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1827 (This Google Books date might not be accurate—ed.)
Pg. 126
It is a much more agreeable masticatory than the spruce-gum, and is chewed in the West by nearly all classes.

28 March 1828, American Advocate (ME), pg. 1:
Spruce Belles—The editor of the Ellsworth, Mr. Courier, in a leading editorial article, lectured the church goers of his town for spending the hours of service in “chewing spruce gum.” This is about the queerest employment for the Sabbath, and in church too, that we ever heard of. We have often been told, (although we never believed it) that the ladies frequently had other motives for attending church than to listen to the sacred eloquence of the preacher; such as the exhibition of a fine person, or a fashionable, new dress—the display of rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, rows of pearl, etc. but we must confess we have never before imagined how a party of blooming belles would appear seated at church in their most fashionable robes, with “heads reared high,” and each with the tip end of her most delicate thumb and finger putting to her mouth a generous quid of gum—[Boston Trav.]

22 February 1831, National Gazette (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 3:
A child, son of a dentist in Second street, near Shippen, met its death last week in a manner somewhat extraordinary, and which merits notice by way of monition. While at school, the tutor discovered that many of his pupils were chewing gum elastic (Indian rubber) and issued an order of chastisement against those who were detected. The boy in question, having a piece in his mouth, immediately swallowed it to avoid discovery. It caused his death a few hours afterwards.—Penn. Inquirer.

21 May 1836, Philadelphia (PA) Public Ledger, pg. 1:
The down East girls, according to an inuendo in the Bangor Farmer, have a droll way of amusing themselves, viz.: by chewing spruce gum, mingled as it frequently is, with dirt, dead musquitoes, and swamp flies, and passing it from one mouth to another. The editor of the Farmer likes to get between a couple of the prettiest, and take his turn.—Boston Post

28 March 1837, Eastern Argus (ME), pg. 2:
Gum-game.—The Kennebec Journal complains that the Augusta boys practise chewing spruce gum to a most unwarrantable exent. Brother Severance thinks it is a dirty practice—we wish he was as near right in political matters.

8 October 1839, Vermont Gazette (VT), pg. 3, col. 5 ad:
WANTED
BY N. L. Robinson, a quantity of Spruce Gum, at a fair price.
Bennington, Sept. 26, 1839.

16 December 1843, Bangor (ME) Daily Whig and Courier, pg. 2, col. 1:
There was a great deal of sport in our market yesterday, on account of the display of a new article of commerce, by a thriving Yankee, it being a large quantity of spruce gum that had been nicely chewed and done up in small wads all ready to be chewed again—e-c-h!

The vender assured the spectators that the gum was all chawed by the boys and gals in his own family, who chawed it as nice as they could to suit the Bangor folks!

24 November 1850, St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger, pg. 5 ad:
...50 Boxes Chewing Gum, 100 boxes assorted nuts, for sale by C. L. LOOMIS & Co.

12 February 1851, Wisconsin Free Democrat (Milwaukee, WI), pg. 2, col. 4:
THE GUM BUSINESS.—The manufacture and sale of Chewing Gum has lately got to be quite a spurce business. Hundreds of tons are made up away down east, where pines grow tall, and sent out yearly, to keep the universal jaws of the nation in motion. Every where folks are chewing, chewing, chewing,—men, women, and children have always a mouthful of gum. The ladies chew it over their sewing, the children chew it at school, those religiously disposed chew it in meeting, and every body, everywhere is i n the same fix as the boy over his Geography lesson—all the time “chawin’ so’thing.” At least it is so in Milwaukee.

A friend of ours, statistically disposed, took notes, one day last week, and out of three hundred and fifty persons whom he noticed in the course of the day, two hundred and ninety four were chewing spruce gum. Four hundred boxes of the article were lately brought to this city by a dealer, containing 416 sticks in each box, or 175,400 sticks, which sell at a penny a stick, and will afford 5,000 people, (the estimated number who chaw in Milwaukee) 35 sticks each—a stick lasting on an average, three days—thus this large amount furnishes only between a three and four months’ supply. When we take from this the amount consumed by transient customers, occasional chewers and travellers, the supply for regular customers is greatly reduced.—Send along your pitch.

14 August 1852, New London (CT) Democrat, pg. 2:
We like to hear a young lady, while amusing herself by chewing “spruce gum,” talk against the dirty habit of using tobacco.

11 November 1916, Gettysburg (PA) Star and Sentinel, pg. 11, col. 4:
Up to that time there had been paraffine and spruce chewing-gum, but nothing with the smoothness promised by this new substance.

9 August 1917, La Crosse (WI) Tribune and Leader-Press, “America’s Greatest Movement,” pg. 7, col. 3:
THOUGHT CHEWING
GUM WAS RUBBER
THomas Adams, Jr. Originator of
Gum Tried to Vulcanize
Mexican Chicle

The beginning of the American chewing gum industry dates back to the close of the Civil war. In 1866 the late Thomas Adams, Jr., happened to be visiting at the home of a friend at Sailor’s Snug Harbor, Staten Island, New York, and there was introduced to Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the exiled military dictator of Mexico. Mr. Adams went to the room that was occupied by Santa Anna to hear something of his interesting life and see the relics he had brought with him from Old Mexico.

During the course of their conversation the old Indian went to a drawer in a mahogany bureau in the room and took out a curious, light-brown substance and began to chew it. Mr. Adams asked him what it was and the old man said it was “chicle,” the gum of the Zapote tree, which grows abundantly in Mexico. He offered Mr. Adams some of the gum and he, too, chewed it. It seemed to Mr. Adams to be of the rubber family, tasteless, but not unpalatable even in its crude, natural state.

He was at once intensely interested in the gum, because he had made a study of rubber and he felt that he might have discovered something of commercial value. he asked Santa Anna to give him a larger piece to use for experimental purposes, and the old man willingly wrapped a portion about the size of a man’s fist in a piec of paper and Mr. Adams put it in his pocket.

In the course of a few days, Mr. Adams took the substance to a chemist in New York and ater telling him about its origin and the odd way in which he had stumbled over it, suggested that the chemist make an analysis of the gum and see if it was not possible to vulcanize it and produce hard rubber.

For more than a year the chemist and Mr. Adams experimented along these lines, but it was finally decided that it was impossible to vulcanize the substance. Still, Mr. Adams did not lose interest in the matter, and while talking over the possibilities of utilizing it with his son, Thomas, the idea to develop it into chewing gum was conceived.

On a total investment of $35.00 the older Adams and his sons, Thomas and John D., started the manufacture of the first chicle gum.

It was marketed under the name Adams New York Chewing Gum, which name was later changed to Adams Pepsin Gum when pepsin was added to the gum.

(Trademark)
Word Mark CHICLETS
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: CHEWING-GUM. FIRST USE: 18991001. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 18991001
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Serial Number 71009340
Filing Date June 28, 1905
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0048005
Registration Date December 5, 1905
Owner (REGISTRANT) FRANK H. FLEER AND COMPANY CORPORATION DELAWARE TWENTY FOURTH AND HAMILTON STREETS PHILADELPHIA PENNSYLVANIA
(LAST LISTED OWNER) CADBURY ADAMS USA LLC CORPORATION DELAWARE 389 INTERPACE PARKWAY PARSIPPANY NEW JERSEY 07054
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Daniel Chung,
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 12C. SECT 15. SECTION 8(10-YR) 20060331.
Renewal 5TH RENEWAL 20060331
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

(Trademark)
Word Mark ADAMS BLACK JACK CHEWING GUM
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: CHEWING GUM. FIRST USE: 19161000. USED IN ANOTHER FORM AS TO THE WORDS “ADAMS BLACK JACK CHEWING GUM” SINCE 1884; AS TO THE WORD “ADAMS” SINCE 1871. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19161000
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 26.03.07 - Ovals with a decorative border, including scalloped, ruffled and zig-zag edges
26.03.21 - Ovals that are completely or partially shaded
26.11.07 - Rectangles with a decorative border, including scalloped, ruffled and zig-zag edges
26.11.21 - Rectangles that are completely or partially shaded
Serial Number 71238887
Filing Date October 20, 1926
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0227611
Registration Date May 10, 1927
Owner (REGISTRANT) AMERICAN CHICLE COMPANY CORPORATION NEW JERSEY THOMSON AVE. AND MANLY ST. LONG ISLAND CITY NEW YORK
(LAST LISTED OWNER) CADBURY ADAMS USA LLC CORPORATION DELAWARE INTERPEACE PARKWAY PARSIPPANY NEW JERSEY 07054
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Daniel Chung, Esq.
Prior Registrations 0012175;0061345;0102242;0113665;0207372;AND OTHERS
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE WORDS “CHEWING GUM” APART FROM AND IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE REST OF THE FEATURES SHOWN IN THE MARK.
Description of Mark THE LINING ON THE DRAWING DENOTES THE COLOR BLUE.
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECTION 8(10-YR) 20070529.
Renewal 4TH RENEWAL 20070529
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, January 07, 2009 • Permalink