Black Jack (gum)

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Black Jack is an aniseed-flavored chewing gum made by Mondelēz International, originally the American Chicle Company.

In 1869, exiled former Mexican president and general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (famous for losing the Texas War of Independence) was living in New Jersey.

Two 5-stick packs of Black Jack gum

He brought a ton of Mexican chicle with him, in hopes of selling it to raise funds to help him return to power in his own country. He persuaded Thomas Adams of Staten Island, New York to buy it. Adams, a photographer and inventor, intended to vulcanize the chicle for use as a rubber substitute. Adams' efforts at vulcanization failed, but he noticed that Santa Anna liked to chew the chicle, which the ancient Mayans had done

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; they did and he began production.

In 1871, Adams received a patent on a gum-making machine and began mass-producing chicle-based gum. His first product ("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 licorice flavoring and called his invention Adams' Black Jack, the first flavored gum in the U.S. It was also the first gum to be offered in sticks.

Black Jack Gum was sold well into the 1970s, when production ceased due to slow sales. American Chicle was purchased by the Warner-Lambert Company in 1962, which became part of Pfizer in 2000. In 2002, Adams was purchased by Cadbury, which merged with Kraft Foods in 2010 and became part of Mondelēz in 2012 following the split.