Some of the first substances used as chewing gums
by early peoples were frankincense, mastic and the
chicle of the sapodilla tree.
And combinations of the
materials with other agents are still being used today
in the production of chewing gums.
Frankincense, a gum resin according to the strictest
definition, is probably the most well known tree
Obtained from various species of the Bos-
wellia tree (particularly Boswellia carteri, or ' Bird-
wood), this is the incense that is mentioned so
frequently in the Bible.
It was also used by the ancient Egyptians in their
Nomads in Somaliland considered frankincense so
Indispensable that they wore it in pouches, even
in prehistoric times.
This pouch was almost an
artificial organ; perhaps chewing this resin
quenched their thirst and compensated for the
scarcity of water in their dry land.
Unlike frankincense, the legendary mastic is a true
resin that is still widely chewed today.
discovered Indians chewing mastic en the island of
Mastic resin is an exudation of the
Pistacia lenticus tree.
People throughout South
Eastern Europe and the Near East have used mastic; the great Greek physician and medical botanist
Dios Corriedis of the first century A.D. referred to
mastic in his book "De Materia Medica."
Today, one can still find a type of chewing gum
Product made with mastic and beeswax, a softening
agent, that is enjoyed by many Greeks and
The word "mastic" or "mastiche" (pronounced
mas-tee-ka) is probably derived from the Greek
"mastichon," which means "to chew," and it is also
the root of the English word "masticate.
" This resin,
as well as all of the other substances listed here (plus
numerous others), could certainly be classified as
being primitive forms of chewing gum, proving that
the chewing gum habit is by no means the exclusive
domain of Americans.
In the Western hemisphere, the first chewing gum
can be traced back at least as far as the second can-
tury A. D. Concrete proof of the use of gum has
been brought to light during excavations of Mayan
Although the Mayans were a highly advanced
civilization, it is ironic that one of the few
conspicuous bits of evidence to indicate their advancement
as a people lies in the discovery that the Mayans
Actually, they chewed the chicle of
the Achras sapoto (sapodilla) tree, thus making this people one of the
originators of modern gum chewing in the Americas.
As the Mayans' golden years
drew to a close (around 800 A.D.), gum chewing
'was no longer a widespread practice.
Only a few
Indian tribes had retained their secret of producing
a chewable product from a very soft tree resin.
The first chewing gum to be produced on an
industrial scale was made by John Curtis, a former sailor.
Curtis’ manufacturing plant grew so large that it was
necessary for him to employ a work force of 200
In the early 1900's, the company merged
with the American Chicle Company.
A traditional recipe for spruce gum was as follows:
Boil the resin in a big black kettle adding oleo as
a softening agent as well as pitch and sap from
other evergreens to increase the volume.
the brew until it melts (at a temperature of
Before the temperature starts to go
down, the mass must be strained.
Pour it into a
tub of ice water and strain it again.
Then pull the mixture over a hook by hand, similar
to the way toffee is stretched.
The longer the
gum is pulled the softer it gets.
Finally, let the
gum harden, break it into pieces and roll it in
In later years, further pulling was attempted as a
method of softening the gum, but this did not prove
to be effective.
The chewability of spruce gum was
There were several reasons for the demise of spruce
One major factor was the introduction
of the rotary printing press.
gained in weight, publishers demanded more and
more wood pulp to supply the need for paper.
Spruce resin became rare and expensive because of
this use of spruce wood pulp, and gum manufacturers
were forced to find other ways to satisfy the
growing demands of their chewing clientele.
Through experimentation, they discovered that
paraffin obtained from crude petroleum was a possible
The first company to produce a
paraffin-based chewing gum was owned by Curtis
and his son.
Compared with spruce gum, the paraffin gum was
much easier to form, as it could be poured into
molds in its liquid state.
(This is still done today with
The ingredients that went into
paraffin gum were paraffin, sugar, color, flavor and
several types of fat.
The first patent for the production of chewing gum
was filed in 1869, and was issued to Mr. W. F. Semple
in Ohio under U. S. Patent No. 98,304.
The development of chewing gum and bubble gum
as we know them today, containing larger amounts
of latex (or, more recently, synthetic rubber), began
in the 1880's.
An inventor, Thomas Adams, Sr., had,
heard that chicle, the latex of the sapodilla tree
which grew in Mexico, could easily be converted
into a rubber substitute.
He bought a ton of chicle in
order to experiment with the substance.
Adams and several friends, one of them a chemist,
performed their experiments in the kitchen of his
He tried to vulca
nise the sapodilla latex.
Achieving this process would enable him to realize
his visions of chicle bicycle tires and other products,
but in the end, all of his efforts were in vain.
The story of how chicle chewing gum was invented is
related as follows:
After about a year's work of blending chicle with
rubber the experiments were regarded as a failure;
consequently Mr. Adams intended to throw the
remaining lot into the East River.
But it happened
that before this was done, Thomas Adams, Sr. went
into a drugstore at the corner.
While he was there, a
little girl came into the shop and asked for chewing
gum for one penny.
lt was known to Mr. Adams that
chicle, which he had tried unsuccessfully, to vulcanise
as a rubber substitute, had been used as a
chewing gum by the natives of Mexico for many
So the idea struck him that perhaps they
could use the chicle he wanted to throw away for the
production of chewing gum and so salvage the lot in
After the child had left the store, Mr.
Adams, Sr. asked the druggist what kind of chewing
gum the little girl had bought.
He was told that it
was made out of paraffin wax and was a "pretty poor
When he asked the man if he would be willing
to try an entirely different kind of gum, the druggist
When Mr. Adams arrived home that night,
he spoke to his son about his idea and both got so
enthusiastic that they decided to make a few boxes
of chewing gum as a sales test.
They took some of the chicle and put it into hot
water until it reached the consistency of putty.
they wetted their hands, rubbed and kneaded the
chicle and formed it into about 200 little balls.
balls no longer looked brownish black, but some
sort of greyish white.
The unsweetened greyish white chewing gum
balls were sent to the druggist, who took them
for a sales test as promised.
Adams told him that
this quantity would probably last for about three
The shop-keeper sold the balls-two for
a penny-and they were sold out before noon the
This encouraging news forced Adams and his son
to produce more, and so began a chewing gum
Today, Adams Chiclets is more than merely a
lt is often used as a generic term for
tablets coated with sugar or sugar substitutes, much
against the wishes of the Warner Lambert Company,
to which it belongs as a registered trade mark.
By the First World War, gum chewing had become
so widespread that gum was even supplied to the
American Expeditionary Forces, which is how it
Despite its introduction by these
American soldiers, chewing gum was not able to
achieve widespread popularity in Europe at that
However, in America, consumption of the new chicle
chewing gum grew rapidly from year to year.
By 1926, annual production amounted to 300,000 tons.
The history of chewing gum would not be complete
without mention of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.
William Wrigley, Sr. was a soap manufacturer in
His son, William Wrigley, Jr., had
dropped out of school and was trying to earn some
money by working at various jobs until he joined his
father's company and began working in sales.
After having sold all the soap his father's factory
could produce, he set out for Chicago and opened a
new branch of the family enterprise.
William Wrigley, Jr. introduced a soap marketing
concept that offered premiums to retailers who
bought his products, based upon the size of the
orders they placed.
The premium he used to sell his soap was baking
When he found that the baking powder was
successful in selling the soap, he went into the baking
powder business and used chewing gum as a
premium to sell that.
With huge success.
lt was then
that he went into the chewing gum business.
premiums he used to sell his chewing gum ranged
from lamps and clocks to counter scales and cash registers.
In the early 1890's, he founded the Wm. Wrigley Jr.
During the first year of production, he
travelled all around the country, personally promoting
and selling his gum.
From the beginning, Wrigley emphasized advertising.
He invested much of his money in advertising
campaigns, and suffered many set-backs.
finally, by 1910, his concerted advertising efforts had
made "Wrigley" a household name throughout America.
Wrigley once explained his concept to a reporter:
"Get a good product; it's easier to row downstream
than up. Tell the customers quickly and
tell them often how good your product is.
Keep always coming to them.
Advertising is pretty much like running a train.
You've got to keep on shoveling coal into the engine.
Once you stop stoking, the fire goes out.
The train will run on its own momentum for a while,
but it will gradually slow down and come to a dead stop."
Adhering to this principle, Wrigley advertised as
much as he could afford.
The name "Wrigley," as
well as pictures of Wrigley's Spearmint gum, were
on display everywhere.
The Wrigley Company built
its first chewing gum plant outside of America in
1910 (Canada), and the same advertising
philosophies were utilized in other countries.
Today, Wrigley controls a major share of the
European chewing gum market.
Bubble gum, as we know it today, did not make its
appearance until 1928.
lt was the invention of
Walter E. Diemer.
Diemer knew nothing about chemis
try; he was a young cost accountant.
For over a year,
though, he had tried to find the magic formula that
would turn chewing gum into the product gold mine
that bubble gum was to become.
One morning, as he was experimenting with the
gum, he noticed something different, something he
could not logically explain.
He placed a piece of his
new gum in his mouth and tried to blow a bubble.
The bubble grew larger and larger and, when it
softly popped, the thin film would not peel off his
nose and mouth.
The elasticity of this gum was
much greater than that of normal chewing gum.
when he tried to duplicate his work the next day,
that batch of bubble gum would not work at all.
would take another four months of work on the
sticky stuff until he would be able to perfect his
bubble gum formula.
While working with a subsequent batch, Diemer
realized that the gum would be more appealing if it
had some colouring.
Since pink food colouring was the
only color he had on hand, he added the pink colouring.
This lack of colors, which might be termed a
fortunate accident by bubble gum connoisseurs
today, may be the reason that bubble gum the world
over has been predominantly pink ever since.
the Second World War, when bubble gum was being
sold on Europe's black market, it was renamed the
On the day after Christmas in 1928, the first Dubble
Bubble (as Diemer's boss Gilbert Mustin , the
head of Fleer Corporation, christened this invention)
was launched in Philadelphia.
A small mom and
pop candy store was the first store in the world
to test-market bubble gum.
lt became an instant hit.
In fact, Dubb
le Bubble was such an overwhelming
success that within three months, all kinds of imitations
were flooding the market.
Before the Second World War, bubble gum had
been an exclusively American product. However,
American soldiers and CARE packages helped to
popularise chewing gum and bubble gum in Europe
and other parts of the world.
When European candy manufacturers recognized
the huge demand for these new products, they
worked to discover the secrets of gum production
and develop their own gum bases in order to compete
with the chewing gum giant Wrigley, and its
gum base manufacturing subsidiary, the
L.A. Dreyfus Company in France.
Consequently, gum manufacturers began to spring
up all over Europe, including Dandy in Denmark,
Maple Leaf in the Netherlands, OK-Kaugummi and
Hitschler in Germany, Krema-Hollywood in France
and Perfetti in Italy.
These companies, in addition
to the existing U. S. subsidiaries, have grown to
In addition to Dreyfus, there are three
other firms in the world at present which produce
gum base only: Cafosa in Spain, Gum Base in Italy,
and Kimpak in Turkey.
In the Eastern Bloc, the demand for chewing gum
has not been as great, but plants have been built
there as well.
Most of these plants in Poland, Yugoslavia
and Czechoslovakia, received their technical
knowledge from the Maple Leaf Company in Holland.
Chewing gum plants have also been constructed in the
U.S.S.R. and in East Germany.
Between 1978 and 1980,
four chewing gum plants were built in the U.S.S.R.
for the Olympic Games by a West German chewing
gum machine manufacturer.
Two plants in East Germany were built with the
assistance. of OK-Kaugummi of West Germany'
None of the other gum manufacturing plants within
the Eastern Bloc were built in cooperation with the
inventors of modern chewing gum-the Americans
-but with the engineering assistance of the Europeans.
In 1961, the first chewing gum plant in Japan
Meer weten ?
(binnenkort meer dus bezoek deze site !)