Tums Inventor James Harvey Howe is Born: February 9, 1873

James Harvey Howe

James Harvey Howe Sr., the inventor of Tums, was born on this date in 1873. James worked as a pharmacist in St. Louis, and apparently developed the formula for Tums in his basement in hopes of finding an effective treatment for his wife’s indigestion. The product caught on with friends and family before commercial production began in 1930. The name was chosen by a radio contest and won by a nurse who came up with the phrase “Tums for the tummy.”

Howe was a dedicated pharmacist who sought to provide effective remedies for common ailments. His invention of Tums came about in the early 20th century, specifically in 1928, when he was working at a drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri. Recognizing the widespread issue of indigestion and heartburn among his customers, Howe developed Tums as a quick and convenient solution. The original formula of Tums was essentially a mixture of ground calcium carbonate, derived from marble from the nearby Ozarks, flavored with sugar and a few other ingredients to make it palatable. Howe’s innovation not only provided relief to countless individuals suffering from stomach acidity but also established a new standard for over-the-counter antacid treatments.

Although the company hasn’t been St. Louis-owned since the ‘70s, a plant that was built by Howe in 1930 still serves as the primary manufacturing site for the product. Needless to say the factory has undergone renovations and been modernized over the years.

James Harvey Howe died in 1960 on Halloween, before Tums had been sold to a larger conglomerate. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Louis, just off St. Charles Rock Road.