This home movie from the John A. Paris collection captures scenes of McAllen, Texas in 1947, as Andrew J. Paris, The Bubblegum King, celebrates the opening of The Paris Gum Corporation of America's bubblegum factory. His family, as well as the press, gather to celebrate. Also on the reel is a trip to visit relatives.
Realizing the lack of inexpensive bubblegum on the market, 27-year-old Andrew J. Paris seized the opportunity and began the Paris Gum Corporation of America. He opened his factory in McAllen in 1947, mass producing his gum and coining the idea of blowing bubbles with your chewing gum. He sold his gum in 5-cent packs that could be broken into six pieces and in individual, 1-cent sticks. Paris let the public know that the chewing gum shortage was over by pulling publicity stunts such as dropping 5,000,000 sticks of gum at South Water Market in Chicago. Paris Bubblegum was a smash hit, and overnight Andy Paris became known as The Bubblegum King; within 16 months he had made himself a millionaire. Paris was an international figure of the late 1940s; he was not only a hero to gum-chewing children everywhere, but was also interviewed and photographed often in Hollywood and socialized with celebrities. Due to the international success of his bubblegum and his 13 gum factories in Mexico, Paris fell under the suspicions of the Cold War-era American government. His fame and fortune diminished quickly as he was repeatedly questioned, audited, and fined by the government. Although Paris Bubblegum was at one time a popular sensation, it has largely been forgotten in the public memory.