Buffalo behind the scenes: Ford Gum & Machine Co.

AKRON, NY (WIVB) – For more than 100 years, western New York has been the home of Ford Gum & Machine Co. Originally founded in 1913, the plant calls Akron home.

“The fun thing is that it’s gum. He’s going to be doing a fun activity when he leaves here,” said operations manager Mark Wagner.

The company’s founder, Ford Mason, first got into the chewing gum dispenser business more than a century ago.

“He went to a convention in New York at the Flatiron building and saw these chewing gum dispensers and yet, ‘I can make a living doing this.’ So he actually bought a bunch of chewing gum machines, set them up in western New York, and found out they weren’t working very well. They took your money more than they didn’t give you the products,” said chief financial officer John Kennelly. “So he reinvented the machine and invented the Ford Gum Machine.”

Kennelly said Mason did this until the 1920s when he decided there was more money to be made with gumballs than actual machines.

“He learned to make gum and started Ford Gum and Machine Company,” Kennelly said.

Since then the company has made some big name items – in 2010 the company took over operations from Big League Chew.

“On a typical production day, we produce approximately 80,000 packets of Big League Chew shredded gum and approximately 6,000 pounds of Big League Chew chewing gum,” Wagner said.

At some point this year, Ford Gum will pack its billionth packet of Big League Chew.

“What I find interesting is that it’s made in the USA,” Wagner said. “Here in Akron.”

But that’s not the only thing the company is known for. When you see chewing gum, chances are it was made right here in Western New York.

That’s because Ford Gum and Machine Company is the only gum manufacturer in the United States.

“When you see Dubble Bubble, it’s branded as America’s gumball. It’s North America’s gumball, but it’s not the United States,” Kennelly said. We’re the only one in the United States.”

Marlee Tuskes is a journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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