Monday, January 10, 2005

The History of Gum

Chewing gum seems to be as American as apple pie, baseball and high car insurance. We chew gum to relax, to freshen our breath or for the sheer entertainment value of blowing bubbles.

But how did it get its start?

Chewing gum was invented in 1796 by Wendell Hollings as an inauguration present for his friend, newly elected President, John Adams.
Hollings and Adams had met only two years before, but had formed a lasting bond of friendship. Oddly enough, their friendship started because of the style of Hollings horse and buggy. Hollings would put candles all over his wagon and covered his horses with a shiny red silk.
In his memoirs, Adams later called Hollings' buggy “Ye olde pimpin-est ride of yore.” It should be noted that Adams wrote his memoirs at a time when his mental health was, at best suspect. When they were penned, Adams was ten years removed from the Presidency and working as both a ‘song and dance man’ and a ‘chicken and egg man.’ Such jobs were not entirely uncommon (George Washington himself once worked as a ‘butter and antelope man’) but Adams also exhibited strange behavior such as saying ‘goodbye’ when he entered a room and ‘put up your dukes' when he exited.
As for chewing gum, it was said at the time that Adams wore false teeth that would often come loose causing him to make a chewing motion with his teeth. Hollings wanted to create something that everyone (except Adams) could chew that would make this gesture seem less strange.
Hollings, a chemist by trade, created a gooey material by combining the extracts of maple syrup and mint leaves, with his own saliva to create a special mixture he called Hollingstuff. He then took this mixture to Pennsylvania where a local man had created a chewable substance made of spruce sap and beeswax. Hollings threw his Hollingstuff in the local man's eyes, and while he was writhing in agony, Hollings stole the spruce sap and beeswax substance.
Thus, gum was born.

Today, chewing gum is a common as disappointed Jewish mothers. It is chewed by children, athletes and Michael Keaton (in ever film where he plays a tough guy.)
It is the bane of custodians who constantly have to clean it off the undersides of tables and desks.
It is a trouble to janitors who list it as one of their biggest problems ‘next to those uppity custodians.'

Gum is available in many different ways. Some gum comes in packs, other comes in gumball form. Everything from sugarless to sugar coated exists at your local grocery store.
If you venture into a candy store you are likely to fine even more varieties. Gum packaged in tubes and gum in unusual flavors like licorice and coffee.

Let’s take a look at some of the major brands of gum.

Big League Chew: Sold in pouches made to resemble chewing tobacco, this gum has been a favorite for many years. It’s sister gum ‘XFL Chew’ was not as successful lasting just one year.

Wrigley Spearmint: Created by the Wrigley family that currently runs Chicago. This makes Wrigley the only gum sold in the city. There is no law against any other gum, but residents still live in constant state of fear. Stories of intimidation abound. In 1998 a man from the North Side was bludgeoned with a deep dish pizza for trying to start his own gum company. The victim, John Sportus, was trying to market Gum-nail a fingernail flavored gum. Sportus started the company because as he said “people like chewing nails and chewing gum, now they can do both at once!”

Chicklets: Remember that episode of Punky Brewster where there was a girls club called the Chicklets? Punky and Cherie wanted to join, but then they found out the girls in the club did drugs and so they didn’t join. That was a touching episode.

Dentyne: Recommended by 4 out of five dentists for patients that chew gum. The other dentist recommends that you send me $50. Right now, cash only. Thanks.

Bubble Yum: Made by the Hershey Company, this gum’s mascot is a duck with a nose ring. That may sound like the silliest sentence on the whole page, but it’s true.

Bazooka: A gum that comes with its own comic strip. So you can read it while you are shredding the roof of your mouth into a bloody mess.

The End

(By the way, this is the first article ever on to end with the phrase “bloody mess”!!! I am so proud!)


  1. Anonymous1/07/2005

    Gum, gum where did you come from
    I chew ten peices while you chew one
    blowing bubbles chomping and chewing
    My favorite Castaway was Mrs. Howell

    Peace out, yo 

    Posted by Sucker MC

  2. Anonymous1/07/2005

    I like to try a peice of Bubble Yum with a peice of Big Red. It gives you that awesome spicy taste with the chewing sweetness. 

    Posted by Hat Matt 71

  3. Anonymous1/07/2005

    Hey Sweetie,
    do you remember the gum with the liquid center? It tasted like a a sweet syrup. I think Bubblelicious made it. 

    Posted by I Hate Sweetie

  4. Anonymous1/07/2005

    go to the link above for a gum with a liquid center. Its not the same brand, but it looks like what you mean. 

    Posted by Sweetie Guy Hutchinson

  5. Anonymous1/07/2005

    How could you do a list on gum and NOT mention Fruit Stripes!
    That was the best when I was a kid. 

    Posted by BANE

  6. Anonymous1/07/2005

    Oh, good one Bane. I should have mentioned that! They had the zebra on the logo and all the different color gum.

    Maybe I will do an entire article on that someday. 

    Posted by Sweetie Guy Hutchinson

  7. Anonymous1/10/2005

    I like bubble yum, but I prefer double bubble. It is much easer to, well blow bubble with. 

    Posted by Mr. Chips

  8. Anonymous1/10/2005

    Hey, good article. I especially liked the backstory on the gum.

    BTW, you have the funniest posters (or should that be commentors) on the web. 

    Posted by Mr. No Like The Smell of Leather