Upon John Bird Burnham‘s return from the Klondike Gold Rush, he settled into the life of a Champlain Valley share-farmer and budding entrepreneur. Today The Crater Club ensures his legacy, but at the dawn of the 20th century it was his recent adventures in Canada’s Yukon and his wife’s maple syrup dowry that sustained the Burnhams.
While finding his bearings in Essex, Burnham derived income in part from lecturing in New York City on the Klondike region for Dr. Leipziger’s Board of Education Free Lectures for the People. The success of these lectures yielded additional bookings at other venues, quickly filling his evenings but leaving his days free for more enterprising endeavors such as marketing Adirondack Mountain Creams, the “maple sugar bonbon candy concocted from his wife’s recipe” (De Sormo, Maitland C.. John Bird Burnham: Klondiker, Adirondacker, Eminent Conservationist. Saranac Lake: New York Adirondack Yesteryears Inc., 1978. p.114).
In 1891 when Burnham married Henrietta Dubois, his wife created a maple sugar candy as part of a wedding gift to her new husband.
Mother wanted to give him a present and so she invented this maple candy that the feature of it was it was never sugary, it was always creamy, and she sold several hundred dollars worth of it and gave Dad the profits as a present. (Burnham, Koert. March 31, 1975 interview with Betsy McCamic and Sally Johnson present. Highlands, Keeseville, NY)
Shortly after 1900 the Burnhams purchased a stone house at the corner of Church and Elm Streets (aka the Dr. Samuel Shumway House) as well as the adjoining barn and Old Brick Schoolhouse. They continued to improve the candy manufacturing process, and in 1904 or 1905 they set up a maple candy factory in the schoolhouse to meet the growing demand for Adirondack Mountain Creams.
Learn more about John Bird Burnham’s old fashioned Essex delicacy in our three-part series about the manufacturing, marketing and legacy of Adirondack Mountain Creams.
Made in Essex, NY: Adirondack Mountain Creams
After establishing the Adirondack Mountain Creams factory in Essex, New York, Burnham expanded and improved the manufacturing process to meet growing demand for his maple sugar confections. Six to ten employees at the factory and many more in the woods and sugar shacks fueled early success. [Continue reading…]
Authentic Adirondack Mountain Creams
Adirondack Mountain Creams’ increasingly robust manufacturing facilities guaranteed consistent flavor, quality and supply, but Burnham understood that creating demand was as important as making delicious candy. He impressed distributors and retailers with packaging that emphasized the product’s authentic Adirondack heritage. [Continue reading…]
The Legacy of Adirondack Mountain Creams
A winning recipe and savvy marketing underpinned the success of Adirondack Mountain Creams in the early 20th century, but a lucky distribution partnership with Park & Tilford also played a crucial role in the destiny of Burnham’s Essex, NY, based maple sugar candy business. [Continue reading…]