Bowman Gum

After meeting a salesman on a boat to Detroit, Jacob Warren Bowman decided to enter the chewing gum business. In 1926, Bowman sold "junk chewing gum" with premium prizes that included butcher knives and Indian blankets. In 1927, Warren Bowman became part owner of The True Blue Gum Company in Lansing, Michigan, selling Tri-Mint and Ju-Ce-Kiss for one-cent each.

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

Warren Bowman left True Blue and purchased 180 pinball machines in Philadelphia. Bowman hired former Wrigley machinist Charles Dellenbarger to convert the machines into gum prize dispensers, but the idea was not economically feasible. Dellenbarger lent a loft shop of older gum equipment to Bowman. After borrowing $300 from a finance company, Bowman formed The By-Gum Company in 1928.

Cigarette cards were introduced by New York manufacturer Thomas H. Hall in 1877. Baseball cards were first sold with chewing gum in 1888 by G&B Gum in New York and H.D. Smith & Co. in Cincinnati. Trading cards were commonly packaged with tobacco products, caramels, or other candies until 1930.

Bubble gum was introduced by Fleer in 1930 with the Dubble Bubble brand. The By-Gum Co. soon began selling bubble gum under the name Blowney. By-Gum was succeeded by Gum, Incorporated on May 5, 1932, and the bubble gum was renamed Blony.

Gum, Inc. Blony

In 1932, Gum, Inc. released the Wild West Series (R172) with a piece of Blony in each pack. An additional 25 cards were later added, including a premium prize card. Later that year, Bowman oversaw equipment installation and training for gum manufacturing in Japan. In 1937, Bowman claimed more than 60% of penny gum sales in America, a figure disputed by Fleer sales manager William B. Hunt.

On February 19, 1938, Gum, Inc. released the Horrors of War series illustrating the violence of contemporary conflicts around the world. The cards were conceived by Warren Bowman and designed by George Moll Advertising, Inc. The complete set was originally priced at $1. The first series consisted of 240 pictures with another 48 added later. An estimated 100 million cards were printed. The card series was featured in the May 9, 1938, issue of Life magazine.

The Japanese embassy protested the depictions of battles 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. On May 20, 1938, a shipment of Horrors of War cards was seized in Yokohama. Bowman theorized that the cards were reshipped from Manilla or Hawaii by Chinese merchants "to make propaganda." Warren 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 popular Play Ball baseball card sets each year from 1939–1941. The high series printing of the 1940 Play Ball set contains six different advertisements for Superman Gum. Newspaper advertisements for Downy Flake Donuts offered free Superman Gum and cards as early as October 3, 1940. 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 and chicle 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. After D-Day, gum from American and Canadian soldiers became widely popular throughout the Netherlands.

In March 1944, Gum, Inc. rebranded as Bowman Gum, Inc. Post-war marketing shifted towards adults and chewing gum. The field sampling staff was mostly comprised of unpaid female volunteers that reported taste test findings to the sales department. Surveys 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

Worldwide supply chains remained irregular after the war. Bowman resumed bubble gum production in January 1947, marketing fruit-flavored Bub. In July 1947, Topps Chewing Gum introduced Bazooka bubble gum.

Bowman sports cards returned in 1948 with sets for MLB, NBA, and NFL players. Former Bowman vice president Edward P. Fenimore, Sr. formed the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corporation and released a series of baseball cards with the Swell brand. In June 1948, former Bowman chemist Harlan H. Hill founded the Fo-Lee Gum Corp. in Philadelphia. Fo-Lee Gum produced a new Superman Bubble Gum, a license previously held by Bowman.

Fleer, Leaf, and Topps began competing with Bowman for exclusive rights to professional athletes. 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.

In 1950, Bowman released colorful baseball and football sets designed by George Moll Advertising, Inc. On April 13, 1951, rookie slugger Mickey Mantle signed a $100 contract to appear on Bowman cards.

In May 1951, Warren Bowman sold his interests to Haelan Laboratories, Inc. Bubble gum card sales dropped roughly 15% from 1951–1952. Topps aggressively pursued licensing deals to control the market. While a legal battle ensued between Haelan and Topps in 1955, Haelan was acquired by Connelly Containers. On January 20, 1956, Bowman Gum and the player contracts were purchased by Topps for $200,000. The Bowman brand was immediately discontinued. Blony bubble gum remained in production until 1972.

Jacob Warren Bowman passed away on February 9, 1962, in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the age of 67.

In 1977, Topps employees 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 Beauties, Horrors of War, Lone Ranger Gum, Mickey Mouse Bubble Gum, and Superman Gum. Gelman and Brown created the popular Mars Attacks trading cards for Topps. Gelman is also the 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 Bowman cards were glued to pages of the 1956 Baseball Card Preference Study, a 24-page report from S. E. Zubrow Company. The prototypes were shown to 324 boys in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. One of the designs appeared in a 1958 series from Hires Root Beer. Two copies of the report were rediscovered in 1983 among the personal files of Woody Gelman. The prototype designs were later 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 retail card releases after 1991. Modern Bowman trading card sets are known for issuing the first cards of young sports prospects.

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


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