Chewing Gum History

Chewing gum is one of the oldest candies in the world. Prehistoric people chewed on lumps of tree resin and become the first-ever gum chewers in recorded history. The early Greeks chewed on mastic, a resin from a tree that grows on the island of Chios, Greece. The Mayans chewed chicle made from the sap of the sapodilla tree. Early American colonists chewed on tree sap mixed with bee’s wax.

People always liked to chew because it cleaned their teeth and sweetened their breath.

In 1848 the first commercial gum were produced. John B. Curtis from Maine developed the first gum out of the resin from spruce tree. His first gum was called “State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.” John B. Curtis and his brother were using paraffin and they improved their gum by trying to put in some flavor. It was not really very tasty, but it was the first commercially sold gum. Curtis brothers established the Curtis Chewing Gum Factory.

In 1869 Amos Tyler patented the first chewing gum made from rosin and olive oil.

In 1869 Antonio Lopez de Santa, a Mexican general and conqueror of the Alamo, came to inventor Thomas Adams to develop a new form of rubber using chicle. Adams produced the first modern-day chewing gum. His gum was much smoother and softer than earlier spruce gum. This gum held its flavor better, but problem with flavor continued. Adams patented a gum-making machine. His chicle gum rolled into balls, and wrapped in colored tissue paper. By 1888, an Adams’ chewing gum called Tutti-Frutti became the first gum to be sold in a vending machine. The first vending machine was located in a New York City’s subway station.

Until the late 1870s, chewing gum has little or no flavor. A druggist from Kentucky, John Colgan, added sugar to chicle and made chewing gum a sweeter treat. However, the flavor did not last for long.

Problem with holding flavor was not fixed until 1880, when William White combined sugar and corn syrup with chicle. He added peppermint extract and his first gum with peppermint was Yucatan gum. Peppermint flavor become an instant hit, and even today it is still the most popular choice.

During the same period Dr. Edward E. Beeman adds pepsin powder to chicle and promotes it as a digestive aid.

In the early 1880s, the brothers, Henry and Frank Fleer, began experimenting with chicle. Frank Fleer attempted to invent the first bubble gum naming it “Blibber Blubber Bubble Gum.” This bubble gum was too sticky and never sold well. You could make bubbles with Blibber Blubber Bubble, but chewing was not as enjoyable as it should be.

In 1899, a dentist Franklin Canning, developed a dental gum which name was “Dentyne.”

In 1891 William Wrigley Jr founded company “Wrigley Chewing Gum”. His first two brands, Lotta and Vassar (later and Juicy Fruit) were a big success. In 1893 Wrigley’s Spearmint was introduced. Later in the 1900’s William Wrigley, Jr. promoted Spearmint with advertising. Wrigley’s Spearmint became a best seller. In 1914 Wrigley Doublemint brand was introduced.

In 1928, an employee at the Fleer Corporation Walter Diemer accidentally founded perfect formula for bubble gum! His bubble gum was not sticky! Double Bubble was based on original Frank Fleer formula.

The Topps Company came up with the idea of adding baseball cards to the chewing gum in 1950. The first Sugar-free version of chewing gum was introduced in the late 1950’s.

Today most gums are made out of corn syrup, natural latex or plastic, flavorings and softeners. They come in many shapes and colors.