Happy Friday the 13th! If you've watched my vlogs, you'll know I totally celebrate Friday the 13th rather than fear it. So in honor of such a special day, I'm going to give you a little more information about Black Jack gum! All my black licorice lovers can I get an Amen!? Black Jack gum is my absolute favorite! I remember it from when I was very young, and then it disappeared, only to resurface when I was an adult, now it comes and goes, but I always buy it when I see it!
The origins are quite unusual (as with most interesting products, am I right?). The story starts with former Mexican President, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who was exiled and moved to New Jersey in 1869. He had brought a large quantity of Mexican chicle with him (Mayans chewed on this syrupy goo they harvested from trees). He planned on selling it to raise money and regain power in Mexico. Thomas Adams of Staten Island, New York, bought the lot from Santa Anna. Adams, being an inventor, hoped to vulcanize the chicle and use it as a rubber replacement. The attempts to vulcanize the chicle didn’t work, but he had seen Santa Anna liked to chew the chicle.
Though Adams’ experiments with vulcanization failed, he resorted to boiling a batch of chicle in his kitchen to produce chewing gum. He placed it in a local store to see if it would sell. Much to his joy, people loved the gum (after he added sugar). He began production and in 1871 Adams got a patent on a gum-making machine and started to mass produce the chicle-based gum. His first creation – “Snapping and Stretching” – contained no flavoring but still sold well enough to encourage Adams to continue production and start experimenting with different flavorings.
By 1884 he had started adding licorice flavoring and called the resulting product Adams Black Jack. This was the first flavored gum ever make in the USA. It was also the first gum offered in stick form.
Black Jack Gum continued to sell well right into the 1970s. However, production ceased in 1978 due to a drop in sales. It was brought back again in 1985. Black Jack gum, along with Beemans and Clove gum, are property of Gerrit J. Verburg Co. who acquired the three classic gum brands from Mondelez International in 2018.
So? Are you on board with black licorice gum? Love it or hate it? What's your favorite gum flavor?