Bowman Gum


After meeting a salesman on a boat from Cleveland to Detroit, Jacob Warren Bowman decided to enter the chewing gum business. The industrious Bowman offered premiums with his gum that included butcher knives and later "Indian blankets" for every 24 boxes. In 1927, Bowman became part owner of The True Blue Gum Co. plant in Lansing, Michigan, selling Tri-Mint and Ju-Ce-Kiss for one-cent each.

Jacob Warren Bowman - Saturday Evening Post, 11-01-1947

Bowman left True Blue and purchased 180 mechanical pinball machines in Philadelphia. Bowman planned to convert the machines to dispense gum prizes with Charles Dellenbarger, a former machinist for Wrigley, but the idea was not economically feasible. Dellenbarger lent a loft shop of older gum machinery and Bowman borrowed $300 from a finance company. Bowman formed the By-Gum Company in 1928 and marketed bubble gum under the name Blowney in 1929 and 1930.

Gum, Inc. Blony

By-Gum was succeeded by Gum, Incorporated in 1932 and the bubble gum was renamed Blony. Bowman began to insert cards into Blony gum packages with a 24-card Wild West Series. An additional 25 cards were added to the second print run including a premium prize card. Later in 1932, Bowman oversaw equipment installation and training for gum manufacturing in Japan.

In 1938 and 1939, Gum, Inc. released a 288-card Horrors of War series illustrating violence of contemporary conflicts around the world. The cards were conceived by Bowman and designed by George Moll Advertising, Inc. of Philadelphia. An estimated 100 million cards were printed and a complete set was originally priced at $1. Officials from Japan protested the depictions of Japanese actions in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The U.S. State Department approved of the card series for highlighting the 1937 sinking of the USS Panay by Japanese bombers. Bowman was banned from the empire and denounced as an enemy of Japan.

1938 Gum Inc Horrors of War - 4 - War Planes Over Tientsin 1938 Gum Inc Horrors of War - 9 - USS Panay is attacked by the Japanese 1938 Gum Inc Horrors of War - 16 - Japanese Attack Train at Wusih

Gum, Inc. released the popular Play Ball baseball card sets each year from 1939 to 1941. The high series printing of the 1940 Play Ball set contains six different advertisements for Superman Gum. The 72-card Superman Gum series was illustrated by Fred Ray. In 1941, Gum, Inc. issued various national defense themed sets and a 132-card War Gum series.

During World War II, latex supplies were diverted to the defense effort, sugar was being rationed to households, and paper scrap drives were held to salvage pulp. American Chicle, Beech-Nut, Leaf, Walla Walla, and Wrigley were contracted by the government to supply gum for military rations. Gum, Inc. was forced to temporarily suspend production until 1944. During the war, gum from American and Canadian soldiers became widely popular throughout the Netherlands.

In March 1944, Gum, Inc. rebranded as Bowman Gum, Inc. The field sampling staff was mostly comprised of unpaid female volunteers that reported taste test findings to the sales department. Testing indicated that more people preferred Warrens Mint Cocktail gum over competitor brands. An extensive advertising campaign for Cin-A-Mint, Fruit Cocktail, and Mint Cocktail included endorsements from Esther Williams, Jinx Falkenburg, Lady Iris Mountblatten, and Lana Turner.

1946 Bowman Gum - Warrens Mint Cocktail

Bowman resumed sports card production with sets for MLB, NBA, and NFL players in 1948. An aggressive completion for image rights for professional athletes arose between rival manufacturers Fleer, Leaf, and Topps. Leaf released baseball and football sets in 1948 and Bowman pursued legal action for contract interference. A settlement was reached and Leaf agreed to cease production. Colorful baseball and football sets appeared from Bowman in 1950 designed by George Moll Advertising. On April 13, 1951, rookie Mickey Mantle signed a $100 contract to appear on Bowman cards.

Bubble gum card sales dropped roughly 15% from 1951 to 1952. In May 1951, J. Warren Bowman sold his interests to Haelan Laboratories Inc. The rival Topps Chewing Gum Company aggressively pursued licensing deals with athletes in order to control the gum and card market. While a legal battle ensued between Haelan and Topps, Haelan was acquired by Connelly Containers in 1955. On January 20, 1956, Bowman Gum and the player contracts were purchased by Topps for $200,000. The Bowman brand was immediately discontinued. The Blony name continued to be used by Topps with Bazooka products.

In 1977, Topps employees and creators of Mars Attacks, Woody Gelman and Len Brown, released The Great Old Bubble Gum Cards and Some Cigarette Cards. The punch-out book contains perforated reprints of cards from American BeautiesHorrors of WarLone Ranger Gum, Mickey Mouse Bubble Gum, and Superman Gum. Woody Gelman was also co-creator of Bazooka Joe and associate editor of Jefferson Burdick's 1960 edition of The American Card Catalog: The Standard Guide on All Collected Cards and Their Values.

Three prototype cards were glued to pages of the 1956 Baseball Card Preference Study, a 24-page report from S. E. Zubrow Company. The three card designs were shown to 324 boys in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. Two copies of the report were rediscovered in 1983 among the personal files of Woody Gelman. The prototype designs were used in the 2003 Bowman Heritage Baseball '56 Edition from Topps.

The Bowman brand remained dormant until Topps released the 1989 Comeback Edition of Bowman Baseball Bubble Gum Cards. Topps stopped including bubble gum with cards after 1991. Packs of 2001 Topps Heritage include gum sealed in cellophane to avoid damaging the cards. The 2015 and 2016 Heritage collections feature scratch and sniff variant inserts that mimic old gum stains. Modern Bowman card sets are known for issuing the first cards of young prospects.

Gum, Inc. / Bowman Gum
1932-1933 Gum, Inc. R172 Wild West 49
1933 Gum, Inc. PX3 Double Header Buttons 43
1935 Gum, Inc. R48-1 Film Funnies 24
1935 Gum, Inc. R48-2 Film Funnies 24
1935-1937 Gum, Inc. R60-1 G-Men & Heroes of the Law 168
1935 Gum, Inc. R89 Mickey Mouse Bubble Gum 96
1935 Gum, Inc. R90 Mickey Mouse with the Movie Stars 24
1936 Gum, Inc. R109 Pirate's Picture 72
1938 Gum, Inc. R189 Tintype Cartoons 24
1938-1939 Gum, Inc. R69 Horrors of War 288
1939 Gum, Inc. R334 Play Ball 161
1939-1940 Gum, Inc. R165 War News Pictures 144
1939 Gum, Inc. R173 World In Arms 48
1940 Gum, Inc. R83 Lone Ranger Gum 48
1940 Gum, Inc. R335 Play Ball 240
1940-1941 Gum, Inc. R145 Superman Gum 72
1941 Gum, Inc. R336 Play Ball 72
1941 Gum, Inc. V277 Home Defence 48
1941 Gum, Inc. R157 Uncle Sam 96
1941 Gum, Inc. R158 Uncle Sam's Home Defense 48
1941-1942 Gum, Inc. R164 War Gum 132
1944 Gum, Inc. R59 American Beauties 24
1948 Bowman R405 Basketball 72
1948 Bowman R406-1 Baseball 48
1948 Bowman R701-9 Movie Stars 36
1948 Bowman R407-1 Touchdown 108
1949 Bowman R701-6 America Salutes the FBI - Heroes of the Law 36
1949 Bowman R406-2 Baseball 240
1949 Bowman R701-4 Movie Flip Book Pre-Vue 24
1949 Bowman R406-3 Pacific Coast League (PCL) 36
1949-1950 Bowman R701-18 Wild Man 72
1949-1950 Bowman R701-19 Wild West 180
1950 Bowman R406-4 Baseball 252
1950 Bowman R407-2 Football 144
1951 Bowman R406-5 Baseball 324
1951 Bowman R701-12 Fight the Red Menace 48
1951 Bowman R407-3 Football 144
1951 Bowman R701-13 Jets, Rockets, Spacemen 108
1952 Bowman R406-6 Baseball 252
1952 Bowman R407-4-1 Football Small 144
1952 Bowman R407-4-2 Football Large 144
1952 Bowman R701-14 Television and Radio Stars of the NBC 36
1952 Bowman R701-7 Uncle Miltie 36
1952 Bowman R701-17 U.S. Presidents 36
1953 Bowman R701-1 Antique Autos 48
1953 Bowman R406-7 Color Baseball 160
1953 Bowman R406-8 Black & White Baseball 64
1953 Bowman R701-3 Firefighters 64
1953 Bowman R407-5 Football 96
1953 Bowman R701-5 Frontier Days 128
1953 Bowman R701-15 Television and Radio Stars of the NBC 96
1954 Bowman R406-9 Baseball 224
1954 Bowman R407-6 Football 128
1954 Bowman R701-10 Power for Peace 96
1954 Bowman R701-16 U.S. Navy Victories 48
1955 Bowman R406-10 Baseball 320
1955 Bowman R407-7 Football 160
1955 Bowman R701-8 Magic Pictures 240
1956 Bowman 1956 Baseball Card Preference Study 3



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Bolt, Jr., B.A. "Domestic market wide open, penny gum invades 5c. field." Printers Ink, 14 Jul. 1944, pp. 22, 80-83.

"Bowman's Bubbles." Time, vol. 30, no. 11, 13 Sep. 1937, p. 60.

Burdick, J. R. The American Card Catalog: The Standard Guide on All Collected Cards and Their Values. Nostalgia Press, 1960

Cullinane, Leo. "He Drives Parents Crazy." The Saturday Evening Post, 1 Nov. 1947, pp. 20-21, 45-48.

Gelman, Woody, and Len Brown. The Great Old Bubble Gum Cards and Some Cigarette Cards. New York, Prime Press, 1977.

"Gum, Inc. Changes Name." Advertising Age, vol. 15, no. 13, 27 Mar. 1944, p. 56.

Jamieson, Dave. Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession. New York, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010.

Hylton, J. Gordon. "Baseball Cards and the Birth of the Right of Publicity: The Curious Case of Haelen Laboratories v. Topps Chewing Gum." Marquette Sports Law Review, vol. 12, no. 1, Rev. 273, 2001.

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Gum, Incorporated v. Gumakers of America, Inc. 12 May 1942.




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