SOUP AND NOSTALGIC LOOK AT FORD GUM AND MACHINE
Speaker George Stege, President, Ford Gum
EVENT IS FILLED TO CAPACITY – WE ARE TAKING A WAITING LIST AT 434-7433.
“Soup & Nostalgia” are on the menu, Saturday, Feb. 17, as George Stege, president of Ford Gum & Machine, tells of the company’s historic Lockport connection at the Niagara History Center’s annual winter soup lunch and program.
Stege will share Ford Gum’s story, from its colorful beginnings to many changes and successes over more than a century, following a noon lunch of hot homemade soups and desserts. The place to be is the History Center, 215 Niagara St. in Lockport.
Many baby boomers who grew up around Lockport have fond youthful memories of Ford Gum Co. and its gumballs. They can recall standing outside or reaching inside an open window at the plant, in hopes of getting their hands on a mouthful of the delicious sweet confections produced there.
Ford Gum grew in size and scope at its Lockport site, the former First Congregational Church at Church and Niagara Streets. The company made and sold gumball machines, as well as gumballs stamped with the Ford name.
The business and its unique Fordway distribution plan were the brainchild of Ford S. Mason, who began his venture in 1913. Mason borrowed money and leased 102 gumball machines, placing them in businesses around Western New York. Following WWI, the Ford Vending Machine Company was formed, with the plant located at the Lockport location.
Ford Gum weathered the Great Depression as it patented its candy coating for gumballs, and then World War II, when scarcity of sugar and metal turned its focus to producing war products for Harrison Radiator.
Following the war, Ford Mason began a fundraising and distribution program whereby charitable organizations could set up and maintain his gumball machines in return for a portion of the proceeds. That arrangement turned out to be the key to success for his company.
This postwar prosperity led to the need for a larger, more modern facility equipped for food production, and the company relocated to Akron, where it thrives to this day. Ford Gum is still one of the largest producers of gumballs in the United States, with over 500,000 round gumball machines in operation, sitting on counters or standing on pipe pedestals in businesses from coast to coast.
Come to our event to enjoy a delicious hot soup lunch on a cold winter day and plan to share your own memories and ongoing love of those delicious gumballs. We bet some of you were even “bribed” into good behavior on shopping trips with Mom and Dad if you knew a Ford gumball machine was waiting at the door!
Don’t miss “Soup & Nostalgia” at the History Center Feb. 17 as George Stege takes us back to the days of Ford Gum in Lockport. Reservations are necessary by calling the History Center at (716) 434-7433. The suggested donation is $5 per person.
GUMBALL MACHINE: Ford Gum made and sold gumball machines, as well as gumballs stamped with the Ford name.
CHURCH: Ford Gum operated from the former First Congregational Church building at Church and Niagara Streets in Lockport, before moving to a larger facility in Akron in 1960.