MadSci Network: Other

Re: How is gum made?

Date: Wed Jan 6 17:07:59 1999
Posted By: Jean Weese, Faculty, Food Science , Auburn University
Area of science: Other
ID: 914965314.Ot

I think you are asking about chewing gum but gum is also something we add 
to food like xanthan gum and guar gum.  I will answer for chewing gum.  
If you would like more information let me know and I will send more!

    From the Indians of New England, the American colonists learned to chew 
the gum-like resin that formed on spruce trees when the bark was cut. Lumps 
of spruce gum were sold in the eastern United States during the early 
1800s, making it the first commercial chewing gum in this country. In about 
1850, sweetened paraffin wax became popular and eventually exceeded spruce 
gum in popularity.
     Modern chewing gum had its beginning in the late 1860s when chicle was
brought to the United States and tried as a chewing gum ingredient. Chicle
comes from the milky juice (latex) of the sapodilla tree, which grows in 
the tropical rain forests of Central America. This tree is found mainly in 
those parts of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize that lie within the Yucatan 
     Gum made with chicle and similar latexes soon won favor over spruce 
gum and paraffin gum. It made possible a smooth, springy, satisfying chew 
that the others lacked, and it held flavors longer and better. By the early 
1900s, with improved methods of manufacturing, packaging and marketing, 
modern chewing gum was well on its way to its current popularity. 

In case you are interested here is the story of one chewing gum company.  
         The story of the Wrigley Company

         William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago from Philadelphia in the 
spring of 1891. He was 29 years old, had $32 in his pocket and the ambition 
to start a  business of his own. Besides unlimited enthusiasm and energy, 
Mr. Wrigley had great talent as a salesman. His father was a soap 
manufacturer, and as a boy, Mr. Wrigley developed his salesmanship selling
Wrigley's Scouring Soap out of a basket in the streets of Philadelphia. In 
his early teens he took a full time job as a soap salesman for his father, 
driving a horse and wagon from town to town, calling on retail stores. 
         At the start of his new business in Chicago, in April of 1891, Mr. 
Wrigley sold Wrigley's Scouring Soap. As an extra incentive to the 
merchants, Mr. Wrigley offered premiums. One of these premiums was baking 
powder. When baking powder proved to be more popular than soap, he switched 
to the baking powder business. Then one day in 1892, Mr. Wrigley got the 
idea of offering two packages of chewing gum with each can of baking       
powder. The offer was a big success. Once again the premium - chewing
gum - seemed more promising than the product it was supposed to promote.
         At that time, there were at least a dozen chewing gum companies in 
the United States, but the industry was relatively undeveloped. Mr. Wrigley 
decided that chewing gum was the product with the potential he had been 
looking for, so he began marketing it under his own name.
         His first two brands were Lotta and Vassar. Juicy Fruit gum came 
next in 1893, and Wrigley's Spearmint was introduced later that same year. 
Getting a foothold in the chewing gum business was not easy. Existing
companies offered products that were then better known than Wrigley
brands. In 1899, the six largest companies merged to form what was known
as "the chewing gum trust," and this combination meant very serious
competition for the developing Wrigley business. (Mr. Wrigley was offered a
chance to join the trust, but he chose to go his own way.) Several times 
the young company was on the verge of going under, but hard work overcame
the difficulties, and the business forged ahead.
         In the very early days, William Wrigley Jr. personally did much of 
the selling to the trade. He had a gift for seeing his customers' point of 
view and accommodating himself to their needs. He was a constant traveler 
and called on wholesalers and retail merchants in many parts of the United 
States. As the company grew, Mr. Wrigley showed an unusual knack for 
inspiring enthusiasm in the people who worked with him.
         Mr. Wrigley continued the use of premiums to encourage merchants 
to stock his products. He knew that his customers would be more likely to 
carry Wrigley's chewing gum if they received a little "something for 
nothing." Mr. Wrigley expanded his premium offers to include items ranging 
from lamps to razors to scales. These offers grew to be so successful that 
he published premium catalogs to assist his customers in their selection. 
         Mr. Wrigley also experimented with the idea of using advertising 
to encourage more people to buy Wrigley's gum. He was one of the pioneers 
in the use of advertising to promote the sale of branded merchandise. He 
saw that consumer acceptance of Wrigley's gum could be built faster by 
telling people about the benefits of the product through newspaper and 
magazine ads, outdoor posters and other forms of advertising. Then, as more 
and more consumers began to ask for and buy Wrigley's chewing gum in the
stores, the storekeeper would naturally want to keep a sufficient stock of
Wrigley brands on hand. 
        This idea was put to the test when Mr. Wrigley decided to 
concentrate on popularizing a spearmint-flavored gum, which he believed to 
be a superior product - the now famous Wrigley's Spearmint. Because this 
brand was a slow seller at first, in1906, Mr. Wrigley decided to advertise 
the gum on a modest scale in the three eastern cities of Buffalo, Rochester 
and Syracuse. The results were promising. 
         The company was also rapidly becoming an international business. 
Through exports to many countries, Wrigley brands became known the world 
over.  The first factories established outside the United States were in 
Canada (1910), Australia (1915), Great Britain (1927) and New Zealand 
         Different preferences in the international markets led to new 
types of products and flavors. Perhaps the most successful product for the 
Wrigley Company outside the United States is the pellet-shaped chewing gum 
most often sold under the "P.K" brand name. 
         As the company continued to grow, it steadfastly applied this 
basic principle: "Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is 
         During World War II, Philip Wrigley, son of the founder and then 
president, led the company in an unusual move to protect the reputation of 
its brands. Because of war conditions, supplies of top-grade ingredients 
became limited. At the same time, the demand for chewing gum increased. 
Large quantities were supplied to the Armed Forces, since gum helped ease 
tension, promote alertness and improve morale among the fighting men. The 
company could not make enough top-quality gum to meet everyone's needs. So 
rather than change the high quality that people expected in these brands, 
the company took Wrigley's Spearmint, Doublemint and Juicy Fruit off the 
civilian market. By 1944, the entire output of these brands was directed to 
the U.S. Armed Forces overseas. 
        For civilians, the company developed a wartime brand. The company 
told the public honestly that this product, though pure and wholesome, was 
not quite good enough to carry a standard Wrigley label. Soon after that,  
top-grade materials became so scarce that pre-war quality gum could not be
         produced even for the Armed Forces. So the company completely 
stopped making its established brands, and the special wartime brand was 
supplied to the Armed Forces. Meanwhile, a unique advertising campaign 
continued to keep the name and quality of Wrigley's gum in consumers' 
minds, even though they couldn't buy it. Dramatic ads featured a picture of 
an empty Wrigley's Spearmint gum wrapper with the slogan "Remember This
        After the war's end, the company was again able to purchase the 
high-quality ingredients used in its established brands.  Wrigley's 
Spearmint came back on the market in 1946. Juicy Fruit followed later    
that same year, and Doublemint reappeared in 1947. Though these brands had 
not been sold in the United States for two years, they quickly regained and 
then exceeded their pre-war popularity. The Wrigley Company then 
concentrated on expanding its global market. In addition to the already 
existing facilities in Chicago, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New 
Zealand, sales offices were opened throughout Asia and Europe. 
         To accommodate the increasing demand for Wrigley products, 
factories were built in the following locations: Manila, Philippines 
(1965); Biesheim, France (1967); Salzburg, Austria (1968); Nairobi, Kenya 
(1971); and Taipei, Taiwan (1978). Later, in response to changing business 
requirements and to incorporate more modern technology, new factories 
replaced existing ones in New Zealand (1954); Australia (1958); Canada 
(1963); Great Britain (1971); and Taiwan (1985). And in the spring of 1991, 
in order to accommodate a new market segment, we broke ground for a factory 
in Guangzhou, China. 
         In the United States, factories were constructed in Santa Cruz, 
California (1954) and Gainesville, Georgia (1971). 
         To meet changing consumer tastes, the Wrigley Company introduced
non-tack Freedent gum, Big Red cinnamon gum and Hubba Bubba bubble gum in 
the mid-1970s. Responding to the demand for a good-tasting sugarfree 
product, the Wrigley Company introduced Extra sugarfree chewing gum in 
        Today Wrigley brands of chewing gum are enjoyed in over 100 
countries throughout the world, and the Wrigley Company is the recognized 
leader in its field. 

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