Chewing Gums - Their History and Tins

by Michael R. Reilly - Owner/Editor

Gum is a general term, referring to to a number of substances that you may or may not want to chew on.

The early Greeks chewed on mastic gum, a resin from a tree that grows in that country and Turkey. It is still used today in much of Greece and the Middle East. North American Indians chewed a gum made from spruce trees, and up until the mid-19th century, this was the most popular gum chewed by Americans.

This was edged out for a short time when the waxy material paraffin was sweetened and chewed. This reminds one of some of our present day candies that contained fruit (?) juices and other liquids that you swallowed after biting off an end of a waxy container. I remember them being shaped like miniature soda bottles, biting off the tops, sucking out the liquid whatever and then chewing on the whole thing to get every last bit of flavor out of it.

Modern chewing gum is usually attributed to the infamous Mexican general - Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna - of the Alamo fame.

While living in the U.S. in exile during 1869, he brought some chicle to an American inventor, Thomas Adams Sr. who wanted to experiment with it as a rubber substitute for carriage tires.

Chicle is a gummy substance extracted from the Sapota or sapodilla tree. Adams failed in his endeavor but also noted that his Mexican friend liked to chew the chicle. Later after a trip to a local drug store, he found out about a paraffin based product called WHITE MOUNTAIN GUM. All of this led him to believe that packaging the chicle instead of dumping a ton of it in the river made more economic sense.

The first gum was packaged in tissue paper, unflavored, and sold in boxes that pictured the City Hall of New York on the cover. It was called "Adams New York No.1."

When you hear of what gum consists of you may never chew on a stick again. All gum is made from the same basic ingredients: the gum base could be a blend of different kind latexes from tropical trees, resin from pine trees, and synthetic materials like polyvinyl acetate, various waxes and imitation rubber. The gum base could amount to 30% of the ingredients followed by corn syrups, sugars, glycerin and literally hundreds of flavorings. The base gum is melted, washed and filtered then blended with the synthetic and natural resins, etc. where it is heated, mixed, cooled and "blocked" for storage until needed.

Later it's combined with sweeteners and flavorings, reheated, then extruded, rolled to the desired thickness, cut up, and packaged.

Bubble gum differs from regular chewing gum in that more rubber latex is used as a base ingredient for its greater elasticity.

The early varieties were hard to chew, especially to get it to a point of being able to blow bubbles. So a soft-chunk variety was introduced.

Later some of these brands came with centers filled with flavored liquids. Gum balls are formed, then coated with a sealing substance. Layers of sugar syrup are added, then polished with edible waxes. Gum in the form of tablets (CHICLETS for example) or pellets are made in much the same manner.

Some notable events in gum history:

1869 - First patent for chewing gum issued.

1871 - Gum making machine devised by Thomas Adams Sr.

1879 - John Colgan, a Louisville, KY druggist, gets 1,500 lbs of chicle instead of the 100 lbs he ordered. He creates COLGAN'S TAFFY TOLU CHEWING GUM.

1880 - William J. White combines corn syrup with chicle, choosing peppermint as first flavoring, creating YUCATAN GUM. White was known as the P.T. Barnum of chewing gum.

1880's (?) - Dr. Edward E. Beeman adds pepsin powder to chicle and promotes it as a digestive aid. Original wrapper had a pig logo later replaced with his image.

1888 - First practical vending machine appears in the U.S. - dispensed chewing gum on the elevated train platforms in New York City.

1893 - Wrigley Juicy Fruit and Spearmint brands introduced.

1899 - The American Chicle Co. is formed by Yucatan Gum (William White), Adams Gum (Thomas Adams Jr.), Beeman's Gum (Dr. Edward Beeman), Kis-Me Gum (Jonathan Primley), and S.T. Britten.

1899 - Dentyne gum created by New York druggist Franklin V. Canning

and a dentist.

Late 1800's or early 1900's - Chiclets are created.

1914 - Wrigley Doublemint brand introduced.

1914 - American Chicle buys the company producing Chiclets.

1916 - Dentyne Company is acquired by the American Chicle Co.

1919 - Wrigley Corporation goes public and is listed on N.Y. Stock Exchange in 1923 (So you may be able to collect old stock certificates.)

Prohibition-Era: Adams Clove gum on market, "Adams Clove take your breath away".

1927 - Dulce 16 and P.K. brands introduced but both discontinued in 1975.

1928 - Walter Diemer, an employee at the Fleer Corporation creates a formula for BUBBLE GUM. To make it look more appealing, he added food coloring. The only color he had available was PINK.

Circa 1933-1947: Peter Paul Co. is selling a Charcoal Gum, advertising often found on cardboard boxes for their candy bars esp. Mounds.

1940 - Leaf Confectionery introduces Rainblo Gum.

1940's through 1980's - Wrigley uses Doublemint Twins in advertising.

1944 to 1949 - Wrigley markets Orbit as a war time product for the military, reintroduced it as a civilian brand in 1977.

1950's - Sugarless gums introduced.

1970 - the artificial sweetener CYCLAMATE is FDA banned.

Was first marketed in 1949.

1975 - Wrigley Freedent brand.

1976 - Wrigley Big Red brand

1979 - Wrigley Hubba Bubba brand.

1980 - Big League Chew introduced by Wrigley.

1981 - U.S. gum sales amount to $796 Million.

1983 - Aspartame (brand names EQUAL and NUTRASWEET) begins its use as a sweetener. Another called Acesulfame-K (brand names SUNETTE and SWEET ONE) have also been used in other countries. Some time after 1983, Sorbitol has been used in gum. This is more readily tolerated by diabetics.

1984 - Extra brand gum by Wrigley.

1994 - Wrigley Winterfresh gum brand

(Wrigley also marketed several brands in foreign countries: Arrowmint in Canada, Big G in Kenya, and Big Boy in the Philippines.)

Some of the above information may be useful in dating your gum related collectibles.

Recent introductions:

Gums flavored to taste like hamburgers, pizza, fruits and other foods sold. Aspirin added to gum for pain relief. Various brands of gum containing nicotine to stop smoking.

The Industry:

The William Wrigley Jr. Company is the largest gum manufacturer in the world. With its headquarters located in Chicago, IL. it has several plants in the U.S. and is a presence in at least 10 foreign countries.

Turkey has the largest number of gum manufacturers.

England and Canada are also prominent producers.

Besides Wrigley, the U.S. has more than 20 other manufacturers, some of the largest being: Fleer Corporation, National Chicle Products Company, Leaf Confec-tionery, Inc., the Donruss Company, Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., Phila-delphia Chewing Gum Corporation, and Glenn Confections which is the leading maker of paraffin gums.

Look for chewing gum jars patterned after early apothecary jars from such companies as Wrigley, Kis-Me, Beeman's, Colgan, and Adams. The Walla-Walla Gum Co. from Knoxville, TN has an Indian embossed in the glass.

Note: "Hake's Guide To Advertising Collectibles" makes reference to Adams Pepsin Tutti Frutti (circa 1886) and Beeman's being brands of Wrigley. This was not the case since they were inde- pendents that helped form the American Chicle Co.

Wrigley was invited to merge with them but declined, preferring to remain independent.

Look for signs in die-cut card- board, tin and porcelain; magazine ads, trade cards, tins, store bins or cabinets, display racks, jars, and other advertising give-aways to add to your collection. You may find old streetcar/trolley ads, old advertising on buildings or billboards (that you could photograph).


Illustrated Tin Container Guide by Evalene Pulati, 1973.

Food and Drink Containers and Their Prices by Al Bergevin, 1988.

The Tin Can Book by Hyla M. Clark, 1977.

Country Store Counter Jars and Tins by Steve Batson, 1997.

Hake's Guide To Advertising Collectibles: 100 Years of Adver-tising From 100 Famous Companies by Ted Hake, 1992.

Huxford's Collectible Advertising, 3rd edition, by Sharon & Bob Huxford, 1997.

Antique Advertising Encyclopedia by Ray Klug, 1993.

Advertising: Identification and Price Guide by Dawn E. Reno, 1993.

TIN GATHERING™-- A Tin Collector's Newsletter. Published by the U.S. Email Advertising Co.

copyright 1997 All Rights Reserved