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History, facts about gum to chew Neolithic Period, Greece, to Present

Updated on January 3, 2015

Apparently humans have had a tendency to want to chew on something like gum for a long time seemingly as far back as the Neolithic Period. Chewing gum with teeth imprints dating back 5000 years has been found that was made of Bircth bark tar and found in Kierikki, Yli-li,  Finland. It is thought that the bark tar the gum was made of had antiseptic qualities and other medicinal values. The Aztecs, as a base for making a gum-like substance, used Chicle.

Back in   my grade school and high school days the greatest offense seemed to be chewing gum in class. I’m not sure what the real objection was, but I understand that there are some places where gum chewing is discouraged now because of the tendency to put the used gum under tables, chairs, theater seats, and on floors.

I remember  chewing gum songs on the radio When I was a kid. One was   "Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?” a song first released in 1924 by the happiness Boys.

"Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?)"  by Lonnie Donegan in 1961.

Another was something like

Chew, chew chew

Chewing gum

How I love Chewing gum

Some History

The Ancient Greeks chewed resin from the mastic tree. The Maya chewed Chicle from the sapodilla. American Indians chewed Spruce sap mixed with beeswax.  

Thomas Adams learned about Central American Chicle from Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Adams tried to market the Chicle for tire making then realized that if it were flavored it would make a long lasting chewing gum. Thus Adams made New York chewing gum and introduced it in January 1871 selling for a penny a stick. Eventually Adams and six other firms merged to become “Chiclets” in 1899.

The New England settlers first got chewing gum  from the American  Indians and in 1848 John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum. He called it “The state of Maine Pure Spruce gum.”  Later a paraffin gum was developed and became more popular. William Semple filed an early patent on chewing gum December 28, 1869.

Gum made from Chicle and other latexes had a smoother, softer texture and flavor and lasted longer. Due to lower cost and availability most chewing gum companies switched to using synthetic gum bases. Glee Gum claims to be the only company still using all natural Chicle.


Many Kinds of Chewing Gum

You can get gum in many shapes, forms and flavors. A favorite with kids is Gumballs, they are round like a little ball and coated. Often gumballs are sold in dispensing machines. They are often called “screwballs in the United Kingdom since they are often at the bottom of a “Screwball ice cream treat.”

·        Another favorite with kids is bubblegum

·        Sugar free gum made with various artificial sweeteners.

·        Candy & gum combinations, usually bubblegum at the center of a lollipop

·        Center filled gum

·        Cut & wrap gum the name of a machine that wraps the gum, usually in a chunk, cube, or cylindrical shape.

·         Pellet gum- pillow shaped and coated and sold usually in blister packs.

·        Functional gum-  used as a delivery system or other practical function.

·        Medicated gum-used  as delivery system for medicines.

·        Powdered gum- free flowing powder compressed into shapes.

·        Stick gum-rectangular, thin, flat, slab of gum.

·        Ribbon gum or tape gum-like stick gum but longer and coiled up.

·        Tube gum or spaghetti gum- soft gum that can be squeezed from a tube.

Note: list adapted from Wikipedia article.

Chewing gum in the armed services


Since World War I, the United States armed services have supplied personnel with chewing gum because it helps improve concentration and relieve stress. The U.S. military is involved in development of a chewing gum with an anti- bacterial agent that would help with oral hygiene on the battlefields.

A cafinated gum has been supplied to troops to help with alertness.

The New Zealand Defense force has a recaldent gum for their service personnel.


Sugar free gum using xylitol-sweetening agent has had some success in reducing cavities and plaque. Orbital has similar benefits but only about a third as effective. Some studies indicate that it is the chewing activity that has the beneficial effect.


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Mark and thanks for reading and commenting. I think I researched and wrote this hub some time ago when hubpages had a project to write about the history of "common things."

    • Mark Johann profile image

      Mark Johann 3 years ago from Italy

      I found this interesting because I love chewing a gum while playing basketball. I remember Michael Jordan doing so.

      It is exciting to know this has been the tradition of humans in Neolithic period.

      How do you come to research with this hub Mr. Dahoglund? :) Thanks for sharing.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting ron! Maybe that gum under the seats could be recycled to make tires for cars.

    • profile image

      ron 6 years ago

      how many tons of chewing gum are left under theater seats?

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Probably not.Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    • profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago

      When I was a kid in Georgia we use to chew rosin from pine trees. Not nearly as tasty as Wriggleys!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am glad I was able to hold your interest. Thanks for the comment.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

      I can't believe I just read an entire hub on chewing gum and enjoyed it. Dahoglund you made this hub interesting enough to hold our interest, very good. Thumbs Up!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks your for the comment. I don't know if you can still buy honey in the comb but I remember I used to.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      When I was growing up, chewing gum in school got you detention. But, when I was in third grade, about 8 years old, my teacher brought honey in combs to class and taught us about bees. We got to chew the honey with the wax, an experience most kids will never have. Bless that teacher who let us chew "gum" as a learning experience. She brought us right back to neolithic times.

      Super info on the history of chewing gum.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment.Actually I didn't know that there were later versions of the song.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oh yes, chewing gum in school was the ultimate horror - which is probably why we had to buy it and find ways to chew it - but the teachers could always tell.

      By the way I had no idea there was an earlier version of the chewing gum song.

      And yes, it's synthetic now - how awful. I suppose it is just good we do not swallow the stuff. When I lived in S. Korea I was able to get some really good natural gum. Delightful. For those of us who were kind of wild we would buy the coffee gum - quite good!

      Thanks for an enjoyable read. Rated up.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for reading and commenting on it.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you dahoglund, for a very informative and interesting hub. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      The song by the Happiness boys was "Does your Spearmint lose it's flavor... it was recorded in 1924.It was changed in later versions,notably Lonnie Donnagon to chewing gum because of a British copyright on the word spearmint.The record shown was "chewin chewing gum recorded by Stringbean.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      When we moved in to our new-old house in Iowa years ago, I found some very old records in the attic. They were so old that they had a recording on one side only!

      One of the songs was "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor..".

      I imagine that was the one recorded by the "Happiness Boys".