You will be surprised to know that prehistoric man chewed gum. Yes, the practice of chewing gums has been around since ancient times. The ancient Mayans chewed chicle which is the sap from the sapodilla trees. The ancient Greeks are known to have chewed mastic gum formed from resin obtained from the bark of the mastic tree found mainly in Greece and Turkey.
Native Americans chewed gum made from spruce tree resin in order to quench their thirst. In the late 1840s, John Curtis, an American used this resin from the spruce tree to make the first commercial spruce tree gum. In 1850, spruce gum was replaced by paraffin wax which was sweetened.
The chewing gum which we have today has an interesting history behind it. It so happened that Mexican General Santa Anna wanted a substitute for rubber. He took the help of inventor Thomas Adams to create a rubber substitute using chicle. Adams was however unsuccessful in his attempt. But, Adams quite accidentally realized that chicle could be used as a sweetened gum. Soon, he opened the world’s first chewing gum factory. Around the same time, William J. White experimented by adding sugar, corn syrup and peppermint to the gum. Thereby creating the most popular gum flavors.
Due to the increased popularity of the gum made from chicle, the demand for chicle rose quickly. But the supply of chicle was limited. This encouraged manufacturers to use synthetic gum bases instead.
Today, Wrigley’s founded by William Wrigley Jr. is the largest chewing gum manufacturer in the United States.
- Book: 1001 Inventions That Changed The World – Chewing Gum , Pg. 340