Children and chewing gum have a moth-flame relationship. Unlike other treats, it sticks around for hours (unless swallowed), and in most schools it’s forbidden. The combination of sweet and banned means have-to-have-it delight. On August 25 at the South Street Seaport Museum, the whole family can learn more about the beloved stuff than ever imagined, including how it’s made and even its place in New York history. There’ll be an opportunity for gum crafts, too, where the offspring can turn Wrigley’s-style sticks (unchewed) into “people” with pipe cleaners and construction paper. The setting is fitting, as the city’s first chewing-gum factory, Adams Sons & Co., was down by the Seaport. It was founded by a photographer, Thomas Adams, who had the idea to make gum while the exiled Alamo conqueror and former president of Mexico, Antonio López de Santa Anna, was living with him on Staten Island. Seriously. (Mexicans had been chewing gummy goop for generations.) “The idea was born in the 1860s, Adams received a patent in 1871, and by 1884 there was a mass-produced licorice-flavored Black Jack gum,” says Gene Carlucci, manager of school and family programs at the museum. Adams (which still makes Black Jack) also sold modern-sounding sour-cherry and sour-apple versions. Carlucci doesn’t chew gum and, as of press time, didn’t yet know how to make it from scratch. “We’re still in the process of looking at different kits that will have to be ordered.” Hurry! The masses want their sour apple.
Something to Chew On
A workshop that’ll stick with you.
8/25, 1–4 p.m. South Street Seaport Museum, 207 Front St. (southstreetseaportmuseum.org or 212-748-8758); free with museum admission. Meet aboard the tall ship Peking.