Chewing gum stimulates salivation, helping prevent tooth decay. Furthermore, chewing stimulates brain bloodflow to improve memory retention and combat sleepiness.
One of the more surprising items in the State Archives’ Artifacts collection is an unopened stick of mint julep gum. But how and when did it arrive there?
Early Life and Education
Thomas Gum was born in Adelaide, Australia to her farmer father and raised with her sister on his family farm. Both Gum’s mother and grandmother worked as nurses.
Gum was active in her Methodist Ladies College Old Scholars Association committee during school and participated in university lectures as well as world tours. Additionally, she taught children with cerebral palsy after leaving education altogether.
Adams successfully combined several of the country’s major chewing gum manufacturers into one company called American Chicle Company in 1899. He invented Black Jack and Tutti-Frutti-flavored gums as well as patenting the first wending machine which allowed gum sales at subway stations in New York City. Adams died in 1905. She worked tirelessly on behalf of children with special needs while making numerous contributions to her community during her long and esteemed career.
Thomas Gum was an entrepreneur who founded the American Chicle Company and invented several chewing gum varieties such as Black Jack and Tutti Frutti. Additionally, he patented the first vending machine which allowed people to purchase gum through dispensers.
His life was dedicated to his family first. He gave up smoking and took advantage of two-week vacations by driving them around to various parts of the country for educational and fun experiences.
His biological daughter described Gum as being kind and always there for them, but also described herself as being an outright liar who frequently made false allegations against him – including telling investigators he inappropriately touched her or exposed his penis multiple times.
Achievement and Honors
Harriet Wengeri served as valedictorian of her graduating class while Lynn McQuern was named salutatorian. Seventeen students received academic recognition, such as Max Rothenberger and John Gum who tied for second place in the county scholarship examination; Bonita Mocherman, Robert Hackerd, Rebecca Rodkey, Wilmer Good, Jean-nie Kochert Carol Silverthorn Sue Thomas who all maintained a 3.94 average or better; Richard Buck and Herbert Louck received scholarships to Hanover college respectively.
Kaylee R. Gum was honored to receive the Virginia State Bar Foundation Special Education Advocacy Award this year, an accolade given annually to one law school student from all graduating law programs across Virginia who has excelled in providing legal representation to children with special needs and their families.
Thomas Gum was involved in several charitable activities during his lifetime. He gave generously to hospitals, universities, children’s charities, Knights of Columbus membership and more.
He first attempted to turn chicle into synthetic rubber products, but his experiments failed due to natural rubber being expensive at that time. Instead, he discovered that chewing chicle could extend its longevity for much longer than it normally would have done.
He later developed the first vending machine for selling his flavored gums, patenting the first wending machine which sold his gum. Before his death in 1905, he founded the American Chicle Company with his sons running it until selling it off in 1954 to The Donruss Company where it eventually became known as Super Bubble brand before again being sold off in 1996 to Leaf before eventually being distributed by Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company and still produced today.
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