Adams traces its beginnings back to Battle Creek, Michigan, when John A. Adams began making and selling his Green Plant Sarsaparilla extract, Adamur, in 1888. In 1905, he moved his family to Beeville, TX. At the time, most vanilla was sold to pharmacies and was often labeled “Do not bake or freeze.” John A. Adams, whose imagination was stirred by his wife’s yearning for a flavoring that wouldn’t bake or freeze out, announced that he could produce a better vanilla than the one his wife was currently using. Working with just $6.71 worth of materials on top of an old icebox, John A. Adams discovered the formula he wanted. To test this product, his wife whipped up a cake for the family to try. “John, this is the BEST flavoring I have ever used,” she announced. “Well, that’s old man Adams BEST,” he responded. The name stuck, and Adams Best was born! At night, by the light of kerosene lamps, his sons, Fred and Don, helped their father print labels and bottle the product. During the day, they sold it door to door with a full money back guarantee.
After being the first student awarded a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from University of Texas at Austin, Fred Adams purchased the company from his father with plans to relocate the production headquarters to Austin, Texas. In 1922, he built a two-story building downtown and continued production. The company grew and prospered under his direction. During this time, Adams Extract brought the Red Velvet Cake to kitchens across America by being one of the first to sell red food color and other flavor extracts with the use of point-of-sale posters and tear-off recipe cards. His son, John G. Adams, Sr., worked in the family business throughout his childhood, and after receiving his BA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he returned and helped diversify its product line and expand its operations. In 1947, he designed and built the first assorted food color 4-pack line that is still sold today. In 1955, Adams built a new facility on I-35, designed by the famous architecture firm Lundgren & Maurer. This plant helped aid in the expansion of products to include a full spice & seasoning line in 1959. During this time, another important person played a big role in the company's recipe development, Betty Adams. Her name can be found on many of the original recipes boasted by the company including the "Adams 75th Anniversary Pound Cake", or Five Flavor Cake, and the “Prize Winning Pound Cake”, a blue-ribbon winner at the 1965 State Fair of Texas.
In 2002, under new leadership, Adams moved to its new home, a modern 90,000 square foot facility, in Gonzales, TX. In January 2013, Adams, one of the oldest continuously operated companies in Texas and one of oldest spice and extract companies in the United States, celebrated its 125th birthday and was awarded the Texas Treasure Business Award, an award sponsored by State Bill 920 that recognizes the accomplishments of Texas businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support to the state’s economy for at least 50 years and pays tribute to the state’s well-established businesses and their exceptional historical contributions toward the state’s economic growth and prosperity.
Today, Adams proudly manufactures and markets under several Adams Brand banners, including Adams Best®, Adams Extract®, Adams® Seasoning & Spice, Adams Reserve®, Pantry Basics™, Sear-n-Crust®, ClearVan™, Carniceria® and Cocina del Rey®. In addition, Adams is proud to manufacture for some of the nations most respected Private Label Brands as well as other legacy Regional Seasoning Brands and is used to flavor many commercially produced food products around the nation.