A winning recipe and savvy marketing underpinned the success of Adirondack Mountain Creams in the early 20th century, but John Bird Burnham believed that good fortune also had played a crucial role in the early success of his Essex, NY, based maple sugar candy business.
Almost at the start he was fortunate enough to place it with Park & Tilford, and this gave it standing with the trade. Furthermore, he was not foolish enough to place the price too low. Huyler’s and Lowney’s package candies were selling then for eighty cents a pound. He put the price of his at a dollar and soon built up a prosperous business based on the high quality of the product. As it melted in his mouth, if he was a good-natured person, the buyer would say, “That is a smooth piece; what does it sell for?” When Burnham told him the price his reaction was usually a mixed one: either he was a fool or else he had something exceptionally good. To find out he would ask who the customers were. This was the time when the name of Park & Tilford worked wonders. How often Burnham blessed the memory of that hero in Park & Tilford who had given him their [first] order… (De Sormo, Maitland C.. John Bird Burnham: Klondiker, Adirondacker, Eminent Conservationist. Saranac Lake: New York Adirondack Yesteryears Inc., 1978. p.114)
Burnham capitalized on this early opportunity and effectively tapped an Adirondack marketing caché that still appeals to consumers a century later. His attention to detail and savvy salesmanship propelled Adirondack Mountain Creams from cottage industry to Essex manufacturing mainstay.
The candy business was continued for a number of years until… he sold out to other refugees from the city who made the country their home—and for a sizable profit. Burnham’s capital of $700 went into the construction of a summer cottage to be rented to some anticipated tenant… (De Sormo, Maitland C.. John Bird Burnham: Klondiker, Adirondacker, Eminent Conservationist. Saranac Lake: New York Adirondack Yesteryears Inc., 1978. p.114)
Burnham exited one enterprise only to reinvest in another. A serial entrepreneur throughout his life, Burnham’s professional endeavors ranged from Yukon gold to Willsboro wollastonite, Adirondack candy to Lake Champlain cabins, and this is to say nothing of his career as a writer and editor or his influence in local politics and the national conservation movement. His legacy has endured for almost three-quarters of a century after his death.
And while selling the legendary maple candy business and transitioning to Crater Club initiatives and conservation marked the end of John Burnham’s Adirondack Mountain Creams presumably the candy and the business endured. At least for a while. And yet I’ve been unable to discover the next chapter… If you can help continue the story, please contact us! Thanks.