Black Jack Gum is an aniseed flavored chewing gum which is made by Mondelez International.
Its origins are quite unusual. The story starts with former Mexican President, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, living in New Jersey in 1869. He had brought a large quantity of Mexican chicle with him when he moved there, planning to sell it to raise money and regain power in his homeland. Thomas Adams of Staten Island, New York, bought some from Sant Anna. The inventor hoped to vulcanize the chicle and use it as a rubber replacement. Adams’ attempts to vulcanize the chicle didn’t work, but he saw that Santa Anna liked to chew the gum, much as the ancient Mayans did.
Adams’ experiments with vulcanization may have failed, but instead he boiled a batch of chicle in his kitchen to produce chewing gum. He placed it in a local store to see if it would sell. When people did indeed buy his chewing gum, he began production. 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.
Black Jack Gum continued to sell well right into the 1970s. However, production ceased in this decade after a drop in sales. It was brought back again in 1986. Now Black Jack gum is made in limited quantities – reportedly Cadbury Adams (the current owning company) only makes a single batch every 3 years.
In an episode during season 3 of the Showtime original series ‘Homeland’, Saul Berenson, the acting director of the CIA confirms his secretary has an adequate supply of Black Jack Gum. It is later referenced as his lucky gum.