Our Founders

  • Photo of Thomas Adams

    Thomas Adams, Sr.

    Thomas Adams, Sr. (1818-1905) – Founder of Modern Chewing Gum

    The birth of the modern day chewing gum industry can be traced to the 1850s when Thomas Adams Sr., a New York wholesale glass merchant and inventor, became acquainted with General Antonio López de Santa Anna, president of Mexico. When Santa Anna was exiled from Mexico and came to the U.S. in the mid-1860s, he stayed with friend Adams at his Staten Island home. Santa Anna suggested to Adams that he create a formula to make carriage or bicycle tires by experimenting with chicle, a substance found in Central American sapodilla fruit trees. About one ton of chicle from Mexico was shipped to New York and Adams, assisted by his son Thomas Jr., tried unsuccessfully to use chicle as a rubber substitute for tires and other items.

    The supply of chicle sat in a warehouse until Adams was inspired by a girl asking for chewing gum in a New York drugstore. He came up with the idea to use the chicle to make chewing gum. Until this time, chewing gum was made with spruce tree resin or paraffin wax. In about 1869, Adams and his son started making unflavored and unsweetened chicle chewing gum in the kitchen of their home, first rolling the chicle flat with a rolling pin and then cutting it into pieces with scissors. They boxed and labeled the product “Adams’ New York Chewing Gum No. 1 – Snapping and Stretching”. Thomas Jr. took boxes of their new chewing gum and left them on consignment at drug stores. Their chicle gum was a success with consumers and soon reorders poured in.

    In 1871 Adams registered U.S. Patent #111,798 for a method of preparing “chickly” [chicle] to produce chewing gum and began commercial mass production of the confectionery product. With two of his sons, Thomas Jr. and John D., Thomas Adams, Sr. started Adams & Sons Company in 1876.

    The firm was the world’s most prosperous chewing gum company by the end of the century. Thomas Jr. became president of the company when Thomas Sr. retired in 1898. Thomas Jr. then built a gum powerhouse in 1899 by merging with the six largest and best-known chewing gum manufacturers in the United States and Canada, and achieved great success as the maker of Chiclets.

    Thomas Adams Sr. died in 1905 at the age of 87.

  • Photo of John Cadbury

    John Cadbury

    John Cadbury (1801-1889)

    John Cadbury was born in Birmingham, England, on 12th August 1801. He was from a Quaker family and did not have the option to go to university as this was against Quaker beliefs. Instead he became an apprentice to a tea dealer in Leeds in 1818. He opened a grocer’s shop at 93 Bull Street, Birmingham in 1824, selling amongst other things, cocoa and drinking chocolate, which he prepared himself using a mortar and pestle. Tea, coffee, cocoa and drinking chocolate were seen as healthy alternatives to alcohol, which as a Quaker he believed was bad for society.

    After several years, John decided to start manufacturing on a commercial scale. In 1831 he purchased a warehouse in nearby Crooked Lane. The earliest preserved price list from 1842 shows that he was selling 16 lines of drinking chocolate in cakes and powder format, and eleven lines of cocoa in powder, flakes, paste and cocoa nibs formats. He was only selling one line of eating chocolate at this time. In 1846 John took his brother Benjamin into partnership and the name of the firm was changed to Cadbury Brothers.

    In 1847 the business moved to a new factory in Bridge Street. . The partnership with Benjamin was dissolved by mutual consent in 1856 and John retired in 1861, handing over complete control of the business to his two sons, Richard and George. The following decades saw the Cadbury business grow to become an industry leader by harnessing the opportunities of industrialisation and creatively marketing to a growing consumer class.

    John Cadbury spent his retirement engaged in civic and social work in Birmingham. Philanthropy had been important to him all his life; over the years he had led a campaign to ban the use of boys as chimney sweeps, campaigned against animal cruelty and formed the Animal Friends Society, a forerunner of the RSPCA. John died on May 11th  1889, aged 87.

  • Photo of William Christie

    William Christie

    William Christie (1829-1900)

    William M. Christie came to Canada from Scotland at the age of 19 in 1848 and worked as a baker in Toronto. In September of 1849 he joined a partnership formed by James Mathers and Alexander Brown to work as an assistant baker and traveling salesman.

    When James Mathers retired in 1850, Alexander Brown took William Christie into the partnership. In 1853, when Alexander Brown retired, he left the business with William Christie. In 1861, when William suffered financial setbacks, Alexander Brown returned to the business, which then adopted the name Christie, Brown & Company.

    On February 11, 1878, Alexander Brown retired for the second time and the business was purchased by William Christie. He built his business on the premise that customers deserved a quality product with the best ingredients. After attending the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876 with samples of his biscuits, he returned with silver and bronze medals. This was just the first of many such trips and "Mr. Christie" soon became known for his high quality biscuits.

    In 1900, the son of William Christie, Robert J. Christie, took over the business. At the time, the company had grown from using less than 50 barrels of flour a week to using 160 barrels of flour, one and one-half tons of butter and lard, and thousands of eggs every working day. The business, under the direction of William Christie, had expanded to the point where Christie, Brown & Company employed approximately 375 people by the turn of the century and had offices in Montreal, as well as Toronto. Deliveries were made to all parts of Canada.

  • Photo of Adolphus Green

    Adolphus Green

    Adolphus Green (1843-1917)

    Adolphus Green, a successful attorney in Chicago, Illinois, began his association with the baking industry in the late 1880s when a committee of prominent bakery owners across the Midwest came to his office and sought his assistance. The bakers realized that times were changing and that bakeries had to change with it. The result of that meeting was the formation in 1890 of the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company, led by Adolphus Green. This new company combined approximately 40 Midwestern bakeries in the hopes of improving product quality and efficiency.

    In 1898, Adolphus merged his company with William Moore’s New York Biscuit Company, along with the United States Baking Company, to form the National Biscuit Company, a formidable collection of 114 bakeries. Adolphus Green was president of this new national company.

    Adolphus was convinced his new company needed a big idea to gain the public's attention. He got it very quickly when the company that same year developed a cracker with a new shape that was lighter and flakier than anything else being made at that time. He considered many names for the product and decided on Uneeda biscuit. However, the quality and freshness of the new Uneeda biscuit wouldn't mean much if the product didn't arrive for customers that way. The previous method of bulk sales would no longer do the job. National Biscuit Company needed a major step forward in packaging and created it with the "In-er-seal" package, an ingenious system of inter-folded layers of wax paper and cardboard. It was the first of many innovations in biscuit packaging.

    Over the next several decades National Biscuit Company, often referred to by the abbreviation N.B.C., grew by acquiring companies such as the F.H. Bennett Company, maker of Milk-Bone pet products, and the Shredded Wheat Company, maker of Triscuit wafers and Shredded Wheat cereal. During this time, the company was also busy developing numerous cookies and crackers, many of which continue to be family favorites, such as Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Honey Maid graham crackers.

    The name Nabisco first appeared on a new sugar wafer product in 1901, but the corporate name did not change until 1971.

  • Photo of James L Kraft

    James L. Kraft

    James L. Kraft (1874-1953)

    By the age of 29, James Lewis Kraft had experience in three business enterprises, including a cheese business based in Buffalo, NY. That year, 1903, while in Chicago managing the company's local branch, Kraft's business partners eased him out. Stranded in this city with a scant $65, Kraft quickly put his merchandising experience to work.

    He noticed that local merchants had to travel to Chicago's wholesale warehouse district to buy the cheese they sold in their stores. So, Kraft used his meager capital to rent a horse and wagon, and each day purchased a stock of cheese to resell to the small storekeepers. The merchants appreciated the convenience, and Kraft prospered.

    By 1909, his brothers Charles, John, Fred and Norman joined him, and they incorporated the business under the name of J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co., with J.L. Kraft as president.

    In 1915, they began producing processed cheese in 3-1/2 and 7-3/4 ounce tins. J.L. Kraft's method of producing processed cheese was so revolutionary, in 1916 he obtained a patent for it. J.L. Kraft followed up on his success with processed cheese in tins by introducing or acquiring many additional products, including such familiar names as Velveeta process cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese, Miracle Whip salad dressing and Kraft macaroni & cheese dinner.

    He used innovative advertising to promote his products and was a pioneer in the sponsorship of American television and radio shows. The company's "hands" commercials, showing a pair of hands preparing recipes using Kraft products, became a symbol of the company's advertising success.

    The success of J.L. Kraft and his company was noted by Thomas McInnerney, founder of National Dairy Products Corporation. In 1930, Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation (as it was then called) was acquired by National Dairy Products Corporation. Kraft continued to operate as an independent subsidiary of National Dairy Products Corporation for many years, but eventually was absorbed into the operating structure of the parent company, which changed its name to Kraftco Corporation in the late 1960s, almost 16 years after J.L.’s death.

  • Photo of Jean Romain Lefevre Pauline-Isabelle Utile

    Jean-Romain Lefèvre et Pauline-Isabelle Utile

    Jean-Romain Lefèvre (died 1883) et Pauline-Isabelle Utile (died 1920)

    Monsieur Jean-Romain Lefèvre arrived in the seaside town of Nantes, France in 1846 and opened a biscuit factory at number 5 rue Boileau.  His unique cookies and pastries, often made from local ingredients, were an immediate success with the local citizens.  In 1850, Jean-Romain Lefèvre married Mademoiselle Pauline-Isabelle Utile.  They combined their lives - and their surnames - and Lefèvre-Utile biscuits were born.

    The couple opened a beautiful new retail store at number 7 rue Boileau in a building adjacent to their factory.  By 1880 the Lefèvre-Utile factory employed fourteen workers.  In 1882 Lefèvre-Utile biscuits won a gold medal at the Nantes exposition.  This medal crowned the career of Jean-Romain who died one year later.  Pauline-Isabelle assumed management of the bakery after her husband’s death.

    The family business soon passed to Jean-Romain and Pauline-Isabelle’s third son, Louis Lefèvre-Utile.  In 1887 Louis, along with his brother-in-law Ernest Lefèvre, established the Lefèvre-Utile Company.  They build a new biscuit factory using the most modern baking techniques.  Louis also began devoting resources to advertising in order to promote LU biscuits.  He appealed to the best graphic designers and painters of his day, such as Firmin Boisset and Alfons Mucha, who lend their talents to create exquisite publicity materials. 

    In 1897 LU introduced what would become its signature cookie  --  Le Petit Êcolier “The Little Schoolboy.”  This new product consists of a scalloped butter biscuit topped with fine chocolate imprinted with the schoolboy figure.  By the end of the 19th century the sale of LU biscuits extended throughout France and several foreign markets.  And the LU factory employed several hundred workers.

    In 2007 Kraft Foods Inc. acquired Group Danone's global biscuit business including the market-leading LU brand.  Today, LU biscuits continue to make life’s delicious little luxuries as they have for over 150 years.

  • Photo of Carl Russ- Suchard

    Carl Russ-Suchard

    Carl Russ-Suchard (1838 – 1925), Inventor of Milka

    Carl Russ-Suchard was born in Solingen, Germany in 1838. In 1884, he took over the reins of Chocolat Suchard from his father-in-law, Philippe Suchard, who founded the chocolate factory in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 1826.

    Carl Russ-Suchard had been experimenting for a long time on how to enhance the taste and consistency of chocolate bars - which were still quite bitter and hard in those days - by adding milk. At last, he succeeded in combining the cocoa mass with powdered milk that was extracted from Alpine milk. This was still an entirely innovative product at this time.

    With the right intuition for the ingredients and an entrepreneurial, forward-looking vision, he was able to introduce a sustainable milk chocolate on the market with this process. In 1901, he created the renowned Milka chocolate with its one-of-a-kind lilac look, and he made it popular on a transnational level.

    Up until his golden years, Carl Russ-Suchard contributed his competence and experience to chocolate production.

    Carl Russ-Suchard passed away in 1925 at the age of 87.

  • Photo of Holger Sorensen

    Holger Sørensen

    Holger Sørensen (died 1943)

    In 1915, Holger Sørensen established a confectionery factory in Vejle, Denmark.  His confectionery company named Vejle Caramel-og Tabletfabrik earned a reputation for high quality products. But Sørensen was always looking for new opportunities.  At an exhibition in London, he noticed a new product – chewing gum.  He bought the recipe and began experimenting with making chewing gum in his own kitchen.  His first chewing gum, Vejle Tyggegummi, was introduced to the Danish market in January 1927 and became an instant success.  Quality remained key for Holger Sørensen as it had from the start and continued as top priority for his chewing gum. 

    In 1939, the chewing gum maker adopted the name Dandy, and the Dandy brand name appeared for the first time.

    Following Holger Sørensen death in 1943, his son, Erik Bagger-Sørensen, took charge of the company along with his mother.  After World War II, he gained sole responsibility for managing the company.  With his talent for business, production, development and interest in trade and export, the Dandy company entered a period of dramatic development with new factories, export opportunities and new products.  Stimorol, which would become Dandy’s most popular gum brand, was introduced in 1956.

    Cadbury Schweppes acquired the branded chewing gum business of Dandy A/S from the Bagger-Sørensen family in 2002.  The Dandy chewing gum brands at that time included Stimorol, V6 and Dirol.

  • Photo of Carl Russ- Suchard

    Philippe Suchard

    Philippe Suchard (1797 – 1884), founder of Chocolat Suchard

    When he was just a little boy, Philippe Suchard, born in 1797 in Boudry in the Swiss canton of Neuenburg, already dreamed of producing chocolate someday himself.

    At the age of ten he came into contact with chocolate for the very first time. At a pharmacist in Neuchâtel he went to buy a pound of chocolate - known as a “pick-me-up” at that time - as a medical remedy for his ailing mother. The expensive “medicine” cost him six francs. At that time this was equivalent to about three days wages for a laborer. On the way home, the ten-year-old dreamed about what it would be like to earn a living making chocolate.

    Chocolate was Suchard's passion from then on. And a few years later, in 1814, he started an apprenticeship in confectionary with his older brother Frédéric in Berne.

    In 1825, his childhood dream actually came true and he opened his own small confectionery business in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He offered fine chocolate made by hand and laid the cornerstone for Suchard's success.

    Just about one year later, in 1826, he built his first chocolate factory on the banks of the Serriere River, in Neuchâtel-Serrières. With the help of a kneading and stamping machine fueled by hydropower, Suchard and his employee were able to produce 25 to 30 kilograms of chocolate per day. In 1880, the ambitious Suchard expanded further and opened his first factory abroad, in the German city of Lörrach.

    By 1883 Chocolat Suchard was one of the largest chocolate companies in Switzerland, and Philippe Suchard was one of the most important chocolate manufacturers. Even today, his name and his products are well-known far beyond Switzerland.

    Philippe Suchard passed away in 1884 at the age of 87.

  • Photo of Henning Throne-Holst

    Henning Throne-Holst

    Henning Throne-Holst (1895-1980)

    Henning Throne-Holst, the son of the founder of Norway’s Freia chocolate company, was commissioned by his father, Johan, to go to Sweden in 1916 and start a chocolate industry there named after the Freia company logo, the Marabou stork. At the young age of 23, he brought with him his father’s knowledge of the chocolate industry and his father’s dedication to quality.

    Freia had opened a very fashionable store on Oslo's main commercial street at th end of the previous century. The store radiated exclusiveness, with mahogany paneling, cut-glass chandeliers and velvet-covered chairs and sofas. The young Throne-Holst wanted Marabou to have something similar in Sweden. In the 1920’s Marabou acquired two stores in Stockholm, one in Gothenburg and one in Malmö. In those days, the best in interior decorating was supplied by the Swedish department store NK, which was commissioned to furnish these stores. The four stores reflected Marabou’s commitment to quality, not only in the furnishings but also in the service-mindedness of the staff. The stores catered to those who wanted fresh chocolate and something extra in the way of fancy hand-packed boxes.

    Although independent operations, the Freia and Marabou companies worked closely together over the years, and in 1990 Freia bought the Marabou chocolate business. Freia Marabou a/s thus became Scandinavia’s leading manufacturer of chocolate and sugar confectionery.

  • Photo of Johan Throne-Holst

    Johan Throne-Holst

    Johan Throne-Holst (1868-1946)

    In 1892 Johan Throne-Holst bought a small backyard chocolate factory in Rodeløkka, at that time a suburb of Oslo, Norway. This small chocolate company had 11 employees. Within a few years – in 1898 – the young company called A/S Freia went public and its stock began trading on the stock exchange. The company grew quickly and became the most successful chocolate producer in Scandinavia. In 1914 Freia was awarded a special national prize for “outstanding products together with pioneering the fields of production technology, marketing and workers welfare.” Today the Freia chocolate factory is still located at the same Rodeløkka site.

    The heritage left by Johan Throne-Holst has been an inspiration for generations to follow. He created an industrial environment which stimulated both professional and personal growth. Hygienic and pleasant surroundings, health services, pension benefits and profit sharing were all implemented at Freia years before they became the norm in Norwegian industry. In 1922 Johan commissioned the painter Edvard Munch to decorate one of the employee dining rooms, and ever since that time art has been an integral part of the Freia environment. The 12 Munch paintings in the “Freia frieze” adorn the walls of the present dining room, which faces the lovely Freia Park where a stunning collection of sculptures is surrounded by beautiful flowers.

  • Photo of Theodor Tobler

    Theodor Tobler 

    Theodor Tobler (1876 – 1941), Inventor of Toblerone

    Theodor Tobler was born in Berne, Switzerland in 1876. His father, Jean Tobler, initially ran a 'Confiserie Spéciale' (Specialist Confectioner) business there which he had begun in 1868. And as of 1877 Jean Tobler began his own small sugar confectionery production.

    Jean Tobler produced all of his candies by hand. Thanks to their popularity, the family's business quickly became profitable. In 1894, Theodor Tobler joined his parents' business. But Theodor thought the company was too small, so he suggested that his parents also produce chocolate in addition to candy and sugar confectionery, and to build a factory for this purpose.

    When Jean Tobler stepped down from the business in 1900, at the age of 70, Theodor and his two siblings took over the management of the factory. They quickly expanded the operation, building it into an internationally renowned company.

    During several trips to Alsace, Emil Baumann - the former production manager of the company and cousin of Theodor Tobler - discovered white nougat. Tobler and Baumann experimented by adding small pieces of the nougat to their milk chocolate. In this way, a completely new product was developed - in terms of its form and mixture - in 1908. Theodor called the new creation Toblerone and, in doing so, combined his surname with the term "Torrone," the name of an Italian variety of nougat. Toblerone became an instant sensation.

    To safeguard against imitators, Theodor Tobler had the manufacturing process patented in 1909 with the Federal Institute for Intellectual Property in Berne.

    Theodor Tobler passed away in 1941 at the age of 65.

  • Photo of Fred Walker

    Fred Walker

    Fred Walker (1884-1935)

    Fred Walker, founder of the Kraft Walker Cheese Company, was responsible for the development of many products and provided the inspiration for a yeast extract product which has given Australians a national icon – Vegemite.

    Born in 1884, Fred showed his drive and ambition from an early age. He left school at 16 to work for a dairy and export merchant in Melbourne, gaining an education and inspiration for his future endeavors. In 1903, at the age of 19, he went to Hong Kong and established his own export/import company, Fred Walker and Company. After returning to Melbourne, his business continued to grow. He soon became the largest cheese and butter dealer in Australia, and manufactured Red Feather Brand cheese in tin cans.

    In 1922, Fred hired a young chemist to develop a spread from one of the richest known natural sources of vitamin B – brewers yeast. Once the new product was ready, he held a competition inviting the public to name the new spread – the winning name was Vegemite.

    Early in 1926, Fred Walker traveled to the United States to visit J.L. Kraft -- the result was an agreement with the Kraft Cheese Company that resulted in the creation of the Kraft-Walker Cheese Company, Limited in Australia. Fred Walker was president and general manager and remained so until his death in 1935.