The History Of Chewing Gum

A chewing gum history, the oldest known piece of candy in the world. Learn it in this incredible artical.

Though it's hard to imagine, chewing gum is one of the oldest candies in the world! For thousands of years, people of all cultures have enjoyed the many benefits of gum.


Many years ago, archaeologists made a surprising discovery! It seems prehistoric men and women chewed on lumps of tree resin for pure enjoyment, making them the first-ever gum chewers in recorded history. The study of man has also found that almost every culture chomped "gum." Ancient Greeks routinely gnawed on tree resin to clean their teeth and freshen their breath, and called their treat "mastiche." Indians chawed on the sap from trees. The Maya Indians of Central America gummed chicle. Early settlers bit into hardened tree sap and beeswax.


In the early 1880s, two brothers, Henry and Frank Fleer, began experimenting with chicle, the sticky substance found inside a sapodilla tree. Henry Fleer covered the tasteless chicle with a sugary white coating and named his invention "Chiclets." Meanwhile, brother Frank put together a recipe for the world's first bubble gum, originally called "Blibber Blubber Bubble Gum." Though popular in their neighborhood, the Fleer's gum was never marketed or perfected and thus, never took off.

In 1848, the Curtis brothers were working on the same product in Maine. Using a Franklin stove and pure spruce tree resin, the brothers sold chewing gum for the first time in history, with an asking price of one penny for every two hunks. In 1850, after moderate success, the brothers left for Maine to work on their gum recipe. Adding paraffin and flavoring to their already popular concoction, the brothers opened the first major gum manufacturing plant, the Curtis Chewing Gum Factory.

As time went on, gums made from spruce became less popular, and were replaced with the Curtis brothers more chewable paraffin gums.

Around the same time, photographer Thomas Adams of New York tried his hand at the gum business, boiling down chicle in his home and selling small chunks of it to a local drug store. By 1871, he had so many orders to fill, he patented the popular gum giving machine (later named the gumball machine) just to keep up with business. Later that year, Adams patented another first of its kind: Flavored gum, after adding licorice flavoring to his recipe and naming his product, "Black Jack." Black Jack was not sold in chunks, but in stick form, and the public went wild!


Until the late 1870s, chewing gum was marked by little or no flavor. A druggist from Kentucky is credited with making chewing gum a sweeter treat when, in 1880, he added sugar to chicle. John Colgan's discovery sealed the fate of chewing gum, forever marking its place in history.


As more and more manufacturers entered the chewing gum market, the popular substance began to be marketed in different ways. Wrigley's sold gum as a treat or candy. Beeman's added pepsin to their recipe and guaranteed it would relieve indigestion and heartburn. Frank Canning sold a "dental gum" called "Dentyne." In the 1870s, Adams & Sons sold "Sour Orange" flavored gum as an after dinner candy. In the early 1920s, Clove gum was said to freshen the breath of those drinking liquor illegally.


Frank Fleer was the inventor of bubble gum, but due to a product that was too sticky to enjoy, Blibber-Blubber never took off. In 1928, while attempting to make a new rubber product, bubble gum was accidentally founded by Walter Diemer, an accountant for the Fleer gum company. The 23 year old Fleer took his discovery to a local grocery store, where it sold out the first afternoon. Within months, the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia began making bubble gum using Diemer's recipe, and marketed the first-ever commercially sold bubble gum. Coloring it a playful pink and sending out bubble blowing teachers proved the perfect combination for Fleer. "Dubble Bubble," as it was known, was an instant success.

In 1951, the Topps Company reinvented the popularity of bubble gum by adding a stick of it to a package of baseball cards, replacing their previous gift of a single cigarette. Children and parents went wild!


Today, bubble gums are made from sugar, corn syrup, flavorings, softeners and latex or plastic. Though many colors of bubble gum are currently on the market, pink remains the most popular seller, and is still one of the most enjoyed candies in the world. Bubble gum is sold on its own, with sports cards, with comics, with entertainment cards, trading cards, in vending machines, and in gum ball machines.

Sugarless or sugar-free gums hit the marketplace in the early 1950s, leading to a whole new gum consumer. Minty, refreshing sugarless gums are chewed by people of all ages and often, recommended by health care providers as a teeth cleaner and stress reducer.


THE average American chews over 300 sticks of gum each year.

IN THE early 1860s, doctors advised patients to stop chewing gum, often telling patients it would cause their intestines to stick together.

OVER $2 billion of gum is sold in the United States each year.

DRIED CHEWING gum can be removed from hair using peanut butter.

THE WRIGLEY'S company originally sold scouring soap and baking powder. Today, they are known only for their gum.

TEACHERS who once punished students for chewing gum in the classroom now using bubble gum as a reward for good behavior.

WHILE the sale of chocolates and other candies has gone up and down over time, the sale of gum has always remained strong.

MOST gum is purchased between Halloween and Christmas.

TODAY, almost all gum is made by machine.

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