AKRON, N.Y. (WIVB) — For more than 100 years, Western New York has been the site of Ford Gum & Machine Co. Originally founded in 1913, the factory calls Akron its home.
“What’s fun is it’s gum. It’s going to a fun activity when it leaves here,” said director of operations Mark Wagner.
The company’s founder, Ford Mason, first ventured into the gumball machine business more than a century ago.
“He went to a convention in New York City at the Flatiron building and saw these gumball machines and though, ‘I can make a living doing that.’ So he actually bought a bunch of gumball machines, set them around Western New York, found they weren’t working that well. They took your money more than they gave you the products,” said CFO John Kennelly. “So he reinvented the machine and came up with the Ford Gum Machine.”
Kennelly said Mason did this until the 1920s, when he decided there was more money to be made in the gumballs than the actual machines.
“He learned how 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 of Big League Chew.
“A typical production day we produce about 80,000 pouches of the Big League Chew shredded gum, and about 6,000 pound of the Big League Chew ball gum,” Wagner said.
At some point this year, Ford Gum will package its one-billionth pouch of Big League Chew.
“The part I find neat about it is it’s made in the USA,” Wagner said. “Right here in Akron.”
But that’s not the only thing the company is known for. When you see a gumball, there’s a pretty good chance it was made right here in Western New York.
That’s because Ford Gum and Machine Company is the only gumball manufacturer in the U.S.
“When you see Dubble Bubble, it’s branded as America’s gumball. It’s North America’s gumball, but it’s not the USA,” Kennelly said. “We’re the only one that’s USA.”
Marlee Tuskes is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.