Colgan's Violet Chips Tin
- Colgan Gum Company
- This small, red, round container with gold lettering was used to store and market Colgan's violet gum.
- John Colgan of Louisville, Kentucky, was a pharmaceutical store owner in the late 1800s when he noticed young children chewing on tree sap. He made a type of gum he named Taffy Tolu which quickly gained popularity in the Louisville area. Colgan has also been credited with inventing the process of adding flavor that lasts while chewing. During the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, he sold his Taffy Tolu and created quite a buzz at the Fair. It was also here where William Wrigley, Jr., came across John Colgan’s chewing gum and while Wrigley’s Gum took off, John Colgan faded into history.
- Sweet treats have been a part of the human diet nearly since the beginning of human existence. The type of treat has changed over time, but human desire for sweetness has not. Candy can be hard or chewy, may or may not contain chocolate and can be sweet or sour. Sugar cane was introduced to Europeans when crusaders brought the substance back from the Middle East, and it was with these Europeans that sugar gained its highly prized status as an art form and a gift to be given away on special occasions. A status that persists to this day when a suitor gives their beloved chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Early pharmacists also often used sugar to mask the bitter tastes of their medical concoctions or prescribed sugar as a cure for an ailment itself.
- At one time, small family owned confectionary shops dominated the American landscape. Opening a candy making business was a relatively low cost investment, all one needed was a kitchen and a basket to sell their treats from on the street. As demand grew, they could grow their business. Today, many of these small businesses have been absorbed into large corporations who command a much greater market power. Breath mints gained popularity because of how they felt cool and refreshing in the mouth while also freshening one’s breath. Peppermint was also considered a digestive aid, and mint leaves and breath mints were often chewed after a meal.
- Currently not on view
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- Object Name
- container, food
- overall: 1 in x 1 1/2 in; 2.54 cm x 3.81 cm
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- Work and Industry: Production and Manufacturing
- National Museum of American History
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