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In 1927, Emmert Brooks drove from Iowa to visit his sweetheart Corrinne in California in a car full of patented pruning saws he intended to sell to farmers along the way. He picked up a hitch hiker, seventeen-year-old Paul Adams, who, for the next few days, traveled with Emmert. While Emmert was visiting friends in Denver, Paul surprised Emmert by successfully selling the remaining saws; thus their friendship was forged, but their business relationship would not fully materialize for several more years. After marrying Corrinne in 1928, Emmert sold flying lessons for Bach aircraft until it suffered a fire in the early 1930s.

Adams Photo
Paul Adams

Emmert found himself, like so many other Americans during the Depression, without a job. Paul had a recipe from a friend in Cincinnati for the best caramel corn he had ever known, and with the Depression in full swing, Emmert and Paul went into business together and founded Adams & Brooks in 1932. Caramel Corn sales grew very rapidly, so much so, that sometime in the late 1930’s, the Department of the Treasury cordoned off the building on Hill Street where the store was located to find the alcohol “still” that they thought must surely be there somewhere. The just could not believe that Caramel Corn sales could possibly account for that much sugar. But it did. Paul and Emmert were greatly amused.”

To build business, the industrious Paul and Emmert saw they could sell Caramel Corn to people waiting in line to buy tickets at kiosks which were then on the sidewalks outside theaters. This was a great success but lasted only until theaters installed popcorn and candy counters inside their lobbies. By this time Paul and Emmert had established a popping plant on Venice Boulevard. They also had established their own raw corn processing plant in Lawrence Kansas. They were cut off from selling directly to theater goers, but they could offer raw and pre-popped corn to the theaters instead and stay in that segment of the business as long as it lasted.

After the Second World War, the Los Angeles County Fair Association re-acquired their very large fair grounds buildings from the Defense Department which had commandeered them during the war and reopened the Fair in 1948. It was to become the largest county fair in the country. Adams & Brooks became concessionaires at the Fair that year, at a prime location at the intersection of the two main thoroughfares on the grounds. They did not sell Caramel Corn. They sold a new product they had developed which they called “Butter Toffee Nuts”. In the late ‘50s they registered the trademark “P-Nuttles” for that product. In those years they also developed concession businesses at other venues, such as the Pan Pacific Auditorium for the Sportsman Shows, and the Ice Shows, and for the Auto Shows in Exposition Park.

Brooks Photo
Emmert Brooks

When the first major Amusement Park was opened in Southern California in 1955, Paul and Emmert, with their experience and reputation for successfully operating in crowd venues, were poised to participate. They were able to acquire the exclusive lease to operate candy stores in the Park. They appreciated the imagination that was the genesis of the Park and were excited to be a part of it. At the height of their tenure there, Adams & Brooks associates managed four locations and employed over 50 people. Theirs was the longest tenure of any of the original lessees in the Park. Of all the wholesale classes of trade, amusement parks remain a most important one for the company.

John Brooks, Sr., the son of the founder, Emmert, started working full-time for Adams & Brooks in 1964. From an early point, John has been involved in several organizations in the confectionery industry. He first joined the Western Candy Conference in 1976, serving as chairman in 1978. In 2001, he received the group’s Distinguished Service Award. He was a member of the NCA board from 1978 to 1982, and again from 1992 to 1996 and was twice elected NCA vice-president, in both 1982 and 1996.

Currently serving as company President, John was inducted into the NCSA Candy Hall of Fame in 2008, a proud achievement for himself, family and employees alike. He acknowledges what he learned from his father and Paul as having the most significant influence on his career and is dedicated to continuing the Adams & Brooks tradition of producing distinctive, unique, quality candy.

Adams & Brooks is in its third generation of family ownership. It operates factories in California and Mexico producing five key product lines, mostly under its own brand names: sugar roasted nuts, chewy confections, specialty caramels, chocolate bars, and lollipops. The company has customers in key trade classes, has representation in all states, and sells internationally.