Soren Sorensen Adams: The King Of Professional Pranksters

By | August 12, 2019

test article image
Cachoo Sneezing Powder. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Soren Sorensen Adams, also known as Sam Adams, was a Danish-American inventor and businessman during the 20th century and is considered to be the father of the novelty prank. Nicknamed the “King of Professional Pranksters,” he invented more than six hundred joke products.

Early Life and Cachoo Sneezing Powder

He was born Soren Adam Sorensen in 1879 in Koldind, Randers County, Denmark, to Hans and Sofia Sorensen. His father was a clog maker until the family moved to the United States when Adams was two. They lived in a Scandinavian community in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and there his father managed a saloon. In 1904, Adams began working as a salesman for a dye company. After discovering that one of the dyes caused his co-workers to sneeze, he figured out how to extract the sneeze-inducing ingredient, a chemical called Dianisidine, and began selling it as Cachoo Sneezing Powder.

test article image
Snake Nut Can. Source: (

S.S. Adams Company

The product was an instant hit with his friends, inspiring him to launch the Cachoo Sneezing Powder Company in Plainfield, New Jersey. By 1906, the company had become so successful that he renamed it the S.S. Adams Co. and began creating other joke products. Among these were the Exploding Cigarette Box, the Snake Nut Can, the Stink Bomb, and itching powder. The sneezing powder was later banned by the FDA in 1919 due to containing potentially toxic ingredients. However, by that time, S.S. Adams Co. had plenty of novelty products to keep it going.

Marriage and Mergers

In 1915, Adams married Emily Josephine Harrigan. The couple had three children: Emily Louise in 1916, Joseph Harrigan in 1917, and Gertrude Frances in 1921. Meanwhile, his business continued to expand with the purchase of the Deland Company, which manufactured magic card trick decks, in 1918. He would later acquire Traub’s Fun Inc, in 1949, making S.S. Adams Co. the leader in novelty product manufacturing.