Black Jack (gum)

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Two 5-stick packs of Black Jack gum

Black Jack was an aniseed-flavored chewing gum made by Mondelēz International, originally the American Chicle Company. As of July 2018 Gerrit's Brands, Inc. acquired the rights to Black Jack gum and it will be relaunched in November 2018.

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.[1]

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. It was re-introduced in October of 1986.[2] 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.

Black Jack chewing gum returned to the market in the 2000s, in limited quantities, often sold in candy specialty shops.

In popular culture[edit]

In the book Deviant, author Harold Schechter mentions that American serial killer Ed Gein chewed Black Jack gum during his sanity hearing. In the TV series Homeland, Saul Berenson is fond of those chewing-gums. Black Jack gum was also used in the television show Boardwalk Empire. It was featured in Nucki's flashbacks in Season 5, Episode 6.

In Seinfeld Season 3, Episode 5 (The Library), Seinfeld is reminiscing with an old friend. He asks if they were chewing Black Jack gum. She says, "Ugh licorice gum? Never!"

In the 1990 movie Pump up the Volume, Christian Slater's character prefers Black Jack gum .

Referenced in the song "back to the hotel" by SF Bay area group N2Deep.

In the Sanford and Son episode "Coffins for Sale" Fred makes a reference to Black Jack Gum being chewed by General Pershing.

In Season 3, Episode 10 of the Showtime original series "Homeland", acting director of the CIA, Saul Berenson ensures his secretary has an adequate supply during a tense moment. (Later it is referenced as his lucky gum). "I'm out of Black Jack. Anymore out there?" Secretary brings him a pack from her desk. "Is this the last pack?" Secretary: "I've got you plenty more. Don't worry".

Rage (1977) by Stephen King. In chapter 22 the lead character, Charlie Decker, says: "Black Jack gum - there is no finer"