The Wrigley Business, 245 Carlaw Avenue
Do you like gum? Do you remember a time when there was no chewing gum? If you chewed gum at the time of Canada’s Confederation, it wasn’t Wrigleys. No, it was spruce gum, gathered from trees. But spruce gum, tasting like a spruce tree smells, was an acquired taste and when a far superior product came along, spruce gum was destined to remain in the spruce trees.
William Wrigley (September 30, 1861 – January 26, 1932) , a master salesman, made gum the household word it is today. Born in Philadelphia to affluent family, William Wrigley Jr. began working selling soap for his father’s company there. He worked for his father for twenty years before striking out on his own.
The 29-year-old William Wrigley, Jr., moved to Chicago in 1891. He founded his own company on April 1, 1891. He was still selling soap, but added new products such as baking soda.
In 1892, William Wrigley Jr. began including a stick of his chewing gum with each package of baking soda. This advertising gimmick, known as a premium, was not uncommon, but, in Wrigley’s case, his premium developed a life its own. People wanted his gum more than they wanted his baking soda or soap. Wrigley bought his gum from from the Zeno Manufacturing Co. of Chicago.
In 1893, Wrigley converted his business, stopping selling household products and focusing on the gum that would make him famous. Rumour has it that J. W. “Joe” Flavelle, an old childhood friend of Wrigley, had a hand in founding his friends gum company. Wrigley launched his new enterprise by introducing two new brands of gum: Wrigley’s Spearmint® and Juicy Fruit®. These two brand names succeeded in spite of the long recession in the 1890s. (http://www.wrigley.com/global/about-us/the-story-of-wrigley.aspx)
In 1895 William Wrigley Jr. experienced a disaster that may have had a profound influence on the safety-first culture that Wrigley’s came to exemplify.
Always an optimist, in 1907 Wrigley mortgaged all his assets to raise money to invest in an advertising campaign that succeeded in making the Wrigley’s gum known across the USA. A “natural born” sales genius, Wrigley is remembered for the term, “Tell ’em quick and tell ’em often.”
By 1907, Wrigley’s advertising genius was widely recognized and held up as an example to all would-be entrepreneurs.
William Wrigley not only promoted his products, but also was instrumental in making chewing gum more socially acceptable.
Successful entrepreneurs attract fame and fortune, but also the bad and mad. In 1907 police arrested William Wrigley’s “divorced wife” for attempting suicide. Trying to kill yourself was illegal in the U.S. and Canada at the time and often punished with imprisonment.
William Wrigley, always protective of his brands and his own good name, responded quickly:
In 1909 William Wrigley Jr. rented a small factory at 7 Scott Street. in Toronto and began producing gum. The manager of the Canadian operations was James Allen Ross. This was the Company’s first plant outside the USA .
Gum chewing was a booming industry with many competing for the booming market and some get rich, some getting very rich. Wrigley’s made 20 different kinds of gum by 1910. That year more Americans chewed Wrigley’s Spearmint than any other brand of gum.
In 1911, Wrigley and Zeno formally combined their businesses, creating the William Wrigley Jr. Co. Limited. For more info about the Wrigley’s Chicago roots see:
In 1909 William Wrigley Jr. Company Limited rented a small factory at 7 Scott Street. in Toronto and began producing gum. The manager of the Canadian operations was James Allen Ross. This was the Company’s first plant outside the USA .
As Wrigley rode the magic carpet of advertising to fame and wealth articles appeared about the gum chewing “craze” including this analysis of the psychology of gum chewing.
The Chicago factory on Ashland Avenue began manufacturing Wrigley’s Spearmint in 1913.
In 1914 Wrigley’s introduced Doublemint®. Wrigley’s Spearmint has a single spear on the package, but Doublemint is a double-ended spear. I remember an old ad campaign for Doublemint: “Double the flavor; double the fun!” The same year, Wrigley’s obtained building permits on newly purchased land on Carlaw avenue and announced that hey would soon put up a brand new, state-of-the-art factory to make gum.
NEW WRIGLEY’S FACTORY LARGE GUM FACTORY TO BE BUILT AT ONCE
FAMOUS WRIGLEY SPEARMINT TO BE MANUFACTURED IN TORONTO
The largest and finest chewing gum factory in the British Empire will be built by Wm. Wrigley, Fr., Company, Ltd., manufacturers of the famous Wrigley’s Spearmint, on Carlaw avenue, next to Rolph & Clark’s splendid plant.” …”The building is to be an all-steel, concrete and brick structure of the best known pattern, four stories in height, with quarter-cut oak trim.” …Excavating is now in process.”
Globe, Aug. 12, 1914
This was the company’s first facility outside of the United States. Newspapers across the country put their own spin on Wrigley’s press release.
BUSINESS IS GROWING
More Room Needed to Turn Out Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
The largest and finest chewing gun factory in the British Empire will be built by Wm. Wrigley, Jr., Company, Limited, manufacturers of the famous Wrigley’s Spearmint, on Carlaw avenue, next to Rolph and Clark’s splendid plant. Such great advances have been made in the Wrigley business in the last four years that a large plant was determined necessary. So many improvements have been made in the process of chewing gum manufacture, such as air-tight wax wrappers, that special construction adds great efficiency. That is what the Wrigley concern is after. The building is to be an all-steel concrete and bricks structure of the best known pattern, four storeys in height with quarter-cut oak trim.
Contracts have been let. Work has been stopped on many Toronto buildings pending a settlement of the war, but the Wrigley Company are going ahead full blast. They will, therefore, be giving employment to a number of men, and will probably profit by being able to get building materials quickly and at a fairly moderate price. Excavating is now in progress.
Toronto World, Aug. 21, 1914.
Do we realize how much of the media’s new stories are simply rewrites or straight publishing of corporate and government press releases? It astounded me when I became press secretary to an Ontario Government cabinet minister. The same was true then as now.
Here are two virtually identical stories that no doubt came from a writer at Wrigley’s.
Continued on another page as Carlaw Avenue: The Wrigley Building.
Two interesting sites for those fond of gum: