Sam Adams is considered to be the father of the novelty prank. He first discovered how profitable practical jokes could be when he was selling chemical dye in 1904. An ingredient in the dye caused uncontrolled fits of sneezing. People found this to be hilarious. So in 1904, Adams extracted the irritating chemical Dianisidine from the dye, and started selling his first novelty product in 1904- sneezing powder. He called his new company The Cachoo Sneezing Powder Company, and by 1906 had become so successful that he renamed his company S.S. Adams Co. and expanded his product line to include many other practical joke items. With the purchase of the DeLand company in 1918 as well as Traub's Fun Inc. in 1949, S.S. Adams Co. was the leader in practical joke manufacturing.
A clever inventor as well as a shrewd businessman, Adams invented over 650 joke shop items, including Sneezing Powder, the Dribble Glass, the Snake Nut Can, the Squirting Nickel, the Stink Bomb, the Fly in the Ice Cube and the Joy Buzzer. The Joy Buzzer was so different and mechanically complex that it earned U.S. patent recognition in 1932. The Sneezing Powder, however, was banned by the FDA in the early 1940s. Which was probably a good thing, as it was under consideration by the Germans as a weapon of war!
Of course, Adams also included some basic and classic magic trick in his line of products. Trick decks like the popular Delands Deck, the Secret Stripper Deck and the Svengali Deck were the first magic tricks owned by hundreds of thousands of eager young magicians in the mid-20th century.
A sense of magical wonder helped to sell classic pocket tricks like the Ball Vase, the Magic Coin Box, the Three Shell Game, Color Vision and Crazy Cube. It was the distinctive, simple comic-book packaging, complete with an enticing see-thru window to give the eager young magician a peek at the wonderful product within, that helped make the S.S. Adams line so successful. Once available in every five-and-dime and neighborhood store, these small pocket tricks in their original packaging are now highly collectible, especailly by professional magicians who remember these treasures from their childhoods.
Sam Adams was known as the "King of Professional Pranksters". He actively managed his company right up to his death in 1963 at age 84.
In 2009, the S.S. Adams Co. was purchased by MagicMakers, Inc., who have reintroduced the most popular tricks and novelties to the market, complete with the famous authentic packaging.
Credit: This biography originated on MagicTricks.com. Please credit this source if you use this information.