The US celebrated its Chewing Gum Day a few days ago, in honour of the birthday of William Wrigley Jr, who started Wrigley’s Chewing Gum in 1891. Gum is incredibly popular in the US, with Americans chewing an average of 182 pieces of gum per person per year.
India too, doesn’t lag behind when it comes to this edible gum. Our country has one of the fastest growing gum categories worldwide. According to AC Nielsen in 2009, the size of India’s total gum category was around R1,000 crore. Chewing gums and bubble gums account for approximately 44% and 56% of the category respectively. In India, the bubble gum segment is larger than the chewing gum segment, whereas in the rest of the world, it is the other way round.
In 2007 in Finland, an archaeology student found a 5,000-year-old piece of ABC (already been chewed) gum made of birch bark tar from a tree. People who lived during the Neolithic period (beginning about BC 9,500) chewed gum as a way to treat gum infections.
The ancient Greeks chewed a sticky, substance from the bark of mastic trees. Mayans, who lived in Mexico and Central America, chewed chicle, a natural substance from the bark of sapodilla trees, and are said to have mixed it with tar and insect grease. American Indians introduced the colonists to chewing a gummy substance coming from spruce trees.
Businessman John Curtis from Maine is credited as the first to sell gum in 1848. Although he had a hard time initially, his product eventually took off and he had to open a big factory to keep up with demand.