During the early 1900s Adirondack Mountain Creams’ increasingly robust manufacturing facilities in Essex, New York, guaranteed consistent flavor, quality and supply for distributors and retailers, but John Bird Burnham understood early on that creating demand for his unique Adirondack maple sugar candy was as important as making it delicious.
Burnham scheduled his early sales forays between Klondike lectures, impressing distributors and retailers not only with his product, but also with his packaging. The maple sugar candy’s authentic Adirondack heritage was emphasized in all aspects of Adirondack Mountain Creams marketing.
The candies were individually wrapped and placed in half pound, one pound and two pound birch bark boxes. Henrietta Burnham dyed raffia green with natural vegetable coloring, and it was used to sew the birch bark boxes shut. Each package was finished with a large red wax seal, a label and an Adirondack Mountain Creams brochure.
The labels for the boxes were drawn by Henrietta and the brochures sent with the candy had a small sketch of a canoe under a moonlit sky and a pine tree… (Burnham, Koert D. Highland Forests: Historical Sketches of Our Land. USA: 1990. pg.49).
Long time Essex resident Sally Johnson attended Betsy McCamic’s 1975 interview with Koert Burnham and shared the following recollection about Adirondack Mountain Creams artifacts she discovered after purchasing the Old Brick Schoolhouse.
When I first bought the school house… and we were cleaning out under the north end, we found a huge bin, I guess 8 by 10 feet and maybe 3 feet deep and it was full of enormous pieces of birch bark. Some of them had been cut into different sizes and I couldn’t imagine what it was, and Warren Cross came in and explained about the maple sugar being packed in birch bark boxes. We also found a huge lot of that green raffia and a little box, it must’ve been a half pound box, that was used. And labels… There was a little folder of three pages that talked about the recipe that said it was a deep secret and it was made with products that were pure from the heart of the Adirondacks and shipped all over the world and it had a little picture of a canoe with the moonlight and the pine tree, all very romantic little sketch. (Johnson, Sally. March 31, 1975 during Koert Burnham interview)
It’s no wonder that this delicious North Country confection marketed in a rustic (but elegant) Adirondack package was, according to Koert Burnham, popular “from Boston to Santa Barbara… [even though] it was the most expensive candy in the country at that time…” (Burnham, Koert. March 31, 1975 interview). Although Adirondack Mountain Creams candy was consumed across the United States, it was always manufactured at the Old Brick Schoolhouse in Essex, NY, and then shipped across the country by railway express.
From marriage to manufacturing to marketing this maple sugar confection evolved from wedding gift to nationwide luxury good under the management of John Bird Burnham.