In 1925, 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 burned down in 1931.
Emmert found himself, like so many other Americans during the Depression, without a job. Paul knew 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. They sold their caramel corn, which was made in the window of their one-product retail store on the famous Hill Street, opposite Pershing Square, in Los Angeles.
Although the Depression put restraints on people’s spending money, somehow there was room and a market for a distinctive, quality product that simply made people happy and tasted delicious. Caramel Corn sales were quite successful; so much so, that during Prohibition, the Department of the Treasury raided the store on suspicion of alcohol distribution! To increase sales, the industrious Paul and Emmert sold popcorn to patrons waiting in line outside movie theaters. This tactic was enormously successful until movie theater managers decided to sell popcorn within their buildings. Some give Paul and Emmert credit for starting the tradition of eating popcorn at the movies!
After the second world war, the Los Angeles County Fair reopened in 1948, and Adams & Brooks started its association with one of the largest fairs in the country. One can still go to the Pomona Fairgrounds today to visit the original booth at the corner of Broadway and Palm and purchase a variety of Adams and Brooks’ quality candy. In the past, pushcarts traveled the entire fairgrounds and offered samples which helped build recognition, and appetites, for today’s ever popular P-Nuttles brand Toffee Peanuts. Today, the pushcarts are conveniently located throughout the fair grounds and offer a variety of Adams & Brooks candy.
When the first major amusement park opened in southern California in 1955, Adams & Brooks acquired the candy concession for the park. Adams & Brooks employees ran a total of four separate candy stores on the park premises. These stores sold a wide range of confections including several kinds of fudge, English Toffee, chews, brittles, rocky road, and a variety of hand-dipped chocolates. In 1970 they assumed all retail outlets in the park. Today, they still remain important customers along with associated parks in Florida and France.
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.