In 1884, Thomas Adams added licorice flavor to his then-flavorless chewing gum, creating Black Jack–the first flavored gum to be sold in the United States. Not satisfied with just one innovation, Adams also decided to form this “Black Jack” gum into uniform sticks, as opposed to the crudely-shaped pellets that were common for the day, encouraging almost every subsequent gum brand to follow suit.
Needless to say, Black Jack is a pioneer and has no problem being first. Keep scrolling for two more fascinating stories behind this daring original!
The chicle plants that produced the first batches of Black Jack gum were actually brought over to the United States by the then-exiled Mexican President Santa Anna. Following his defeat at the end of the Texas Revolution, Santa Anna sought shelter away from Central America–first in Jamaica, then in New England.
While in New Jersey, Santa Anna met Thomas Adams, a spirited businessman and inventor. Adams was fascinated by the chicle plants Santa Anna had brought over from Mexico. He experimented with a few different uses for their stretchy substance and eventually landed on chewing gum!
When you’ve been around as long as Black Jack, you become naturally tied to pop culture–mentioned in books and featured in movies simply because you’re a part of both the past and the present. Black Jack’s original Norman Rockwellian adverts appeared on city streets throughout the early 1900s. From there, Black Jack has popped up everywhere from episodes of Seinfeld and Sanford and Son to Stephen King novels and movies starring Christian Slater.
It’s a wild and various list of credits. But, when you’re an original, it comes with the territory!