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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 5, May 2011, Posted On: 4/24/2011

Vacant Swell Plant At Center Of Lawsuit

Hank Schlesinger
vending, bulk vending, Philadelphia Chewing Gum Co., Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp., bulk vending history, Swell chewing gum, bubble gum, Edward P. Fenimore, Haverford PA, Tootsie Roll Industries, Concord Confections

HAVERFORD, PA -- A piece of bulk vending history is currently embroiled in a real estate controversy. According to local press reports, the site that once held the Philadelphia Chewing Gum headquarters and manufacturing plant is at the center of a lawsuit between the township of Haverford, PA, and the former owners of the facility, the Fenimore family.

The 200,000-sq.ft. building, which has been empty for eight years, was acquired by the township in March 2009 for $1.26 million through its power of eminent domain. The Fenimore family appealed the final price, and on March 23 a court-appointed Board of View agreed and ordered the township to pay the family $6 million, six times the initial price.

The township is appealing the ruling. Complicating the matter is the fact that the township has already signed an agreement with the YMCA of Philadelphia to build a 70,000-sq.ft. facility on the property.

Founded in 1948 by Edward P. Fenimore, the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Co. was known for its Swell bubblegum brand sold in standard ball gum formats. Other bubblegum products included the extra-sour Cry, Gold Rocks nuggets, giant-size Joe Blo and the cigar-shaped El Bubble. For a brief period in the 1960s, the company had a license from the National Football League to produce trading cards of leading football players, while Topps produced cards for the rival American Football League. The company also produced a set of 55 self-adhesive stickers of Marvel Comics superheroes, among other collectibles.

Philadelphia Chewing Gum was acquired by Concord Confections in July 2003 and the plant shuttered. A year later, Tootsie Roll Industries purchased Concord.

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