The ancient Greeks chewed the resin of the mastic tree; the Maya chewed chicle from the sapodilla, and North American Indians chewed spruce sap (mixed with beeswax, this would become the settlers’ first chewing gum). Chewing gum has a long history in the world, and a long history in the United States, too. The first gum produced for commercial sale was State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum, made by John B. Curtis in 1848.
If a Mexican general named Antonio López de Santa Anna, in exile on Staten Island, had not introduced a fellow prisoner named Thomas Adams to the Central American chicle, Americans might still be chomping sticky spruce gum. Adams, a photographer, first tried to market the substance for tyres, but soon realised it could be flavoured to create a longer-lasting chewing gum. Adams New York Chewing Gum went on sale in January 1871, for a penny per stick. Adams’s company would eventually merge with six others to become a great conglomerate, and is responsible for the aptly named Chiclets. Black Jack (1884), which is flavoured with licqourice, and Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum quickly followed and quickly dominated the market and are all still around today.
Chewing gum gained worldwide popularity through American GIs in WWII, who were supplied chewing gum as a ration and traded it with locals. Synthetic gums were first introduced to the U.S. after chicle no longer satisfied the needs of making good chewing gum. Although by the 1960s, US manufacturers had switched to butadiene-based synthetic rubber, as it was cheaper to manufacture. .