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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Chewing Gum


Nine thousand years ago, chewing gum was being made in Sweden by heating birch bark inside a sealed container to make a chewy tar. Children and teenagers were the main users, and its purpose was help get rid of milk teeth.

The world’s oldest piece of chewing gum  was found in Sweden in 1993, still bearing the teeth marks of a Stone Age youth.

For centuries Native American Indians chewed spruce tree resin, to ease hunger pains. When the New World colonists arrived, they started copying them.

State of Maine Spruce Gum, invented by John B Curtis in 1848 was the first chewing gum to be sold commercially in America. However it was not a success as it’s taste was too harsh, texture too tough and it needed frequent dipping in powdered sugar to stay sweet.

In 1850 John B Curtis started selling flavoured paraffin gums, which were more popular than spruce gums.

The Mexican president, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who led the sacking of the Alamo fortress in San Antonio was exiled in Staten Island, New York. In 1871 he asked his secretary Thomas Adams to find a substitute for rubber. Adams experimented with chicle and while he found it unsuitable as rubber, it was superior to all existing chewing gums and he started manufacturing it.

An Ohio dentist, William F Semple, added sugar to chewing gum. On December 28, 1869 William F Semple filed a patent for his improved chewing gum. He described his creation as “the combination of rubber with other articles adapted to the formation of an acceptable chewing gum.”

John Colgan, a druggist from Louisville, Kentucky added in 1880 licorice flavor to chicle, thus introducing flavored chewing gum.

Queen Victoria was addicted to cocaine infused chewing gum. She was even believed to have shared some with a young Winston Churchill.

In 1888, the first practical vending machine was introduced selling the Thomas Adams’ Tutti-Frutti brand of chewing gum on an elevated platform in a New York subway station.

In 1891 William Wrigley went to Chicago as a soap distributor, founding William Wrigley Jr. Company on April 1, 1891. Wrigley started offering baking powder as a premium with each box of soap, and when baking powder proved to be more popular than soap, he switched to the baking powder business. One day Wrigley got the idea of offering two packages of chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The offer was a big success. By the following year he had decided that chewing gum is the product with the potential he had been looking for, so he begun marketing it under his own name.

The first brand of Wrigley's chewing gum was called "Vassar", after the New England woman's college. Next were "Lotta" and "Sweet Sixteen Orange."

In 1915 William Wrigley collected every telephone directory in the United States and mailed three sticks of Wrigley Gum to every name and address listed. The ploy worked and sales skyrocketed.

William Wrigley passed away on January 26, 1932 at the age of 70 with an estimated net worth of $34 million or about $582 million today.

William Wrigley, Jr. on the cover of Time in 1929.

In 2012, Britain saw a spate of chewing gum theft because it was being used as a currency in Romania.


Peanut butter is an effective way to remove chewing gum from hair or clothes.

The chewing gum Juicy Fruit has ten calories. This is approximately the same as a bite of whole wheat bread.

Juicy Fruit gum doesn't have an official flavor—the company says the taste is comprised of lemon, orange, pineapple, and banana notes.

Most chewing gum made since World War II is based with synthetic petroleum polymers, making it non-biodegradable. Gum is the second most littered object, and is expensive and time consuming to clean up.

Disneyland doesn't sell chewing gum as Walt Disney didn't want guests inconvenienced by stepping on gum in the park.

Since 2004, it's been illegal to import chewing gum into Singapore, because it's not clean to have it on the streets.

When British jockey Frankie Dettori rode in Hong Kong on January 4, 1992, he was cautioned by the stewards for chewing gum.

Chewing gum can help speed up your metabolism, making it easier to burn calories and lose weight.

You can chew gum while chopping onions to keep yourself from crying.

Your body can't digest gum because gum's rubber polymers can't be broken down by an enzyme or dissolved by stomach acid.

374 trillion sticks of chewing gum are made every year.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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