The Engines of Our Ingenuity: "In 1869 a remarkable meeting took place between General Santa Ana (who'd slaughtered occupants of the Alamo) and an inventor named Thomas Adams. Sam Houston had spared Santa Ana's life when he defeated him at San Jacinto. Santa Ana then went on to a choppy political career that included a brief and unsuccessful turn as Dictator of Mexico. Now, in 1869, 74-year-old Santa Ana was living in exile from Mexico and visiting, of all places, Staten Island. He was trying to raise money for an army so he could go back and take Mexico City. His plan was to sell Mexican chicle to America as a substitute for then-expensive rubber. So he invited Adams to visit him. Adams took a chance and bought a ton of chicle from him, but he had no luck making it into a rubber substitute. Then Adams's son, Horatio, realized he could make a chewable product. He gave it a try. He gave 200 balls of the stuff to a druggist, who sold them at two for a penny. By noon that day they were gone. So began the Adams gum dynasty. The Adams family made the first commercial chicle-based gum in 1871. They went on to create Adams Clove Gum, Chiclets, Blackjack, and more. So chewing gum came to stay. And what about Santa Ana and Adams? Santa Ana died penniless; Adams died rich. And commercial chewing gum has been a uniquely American gift -- to an all too tense waiting world."