This column was originally scheduled for publication on June 9, 2018 and missed publication.
Did you ever say to yourself, “Self, I wonder who invented chewing gum?” Well, I’d like to tell you a little story about that. Chewing gum, as you know, is one of the most popular sweet products in the United States.
The person giving credit for introducing gum to America is the Mexican general Santa Ana. He moved to Staten Island, New York in the 1840s. He brought several huge pieces of a tasteless, latex-like material called chicle with him.
He showed it to a local inventor Thomas Adams, who imported a bunch of this gummy stuff. Adams began to sell it as an alternative to a popular chewing material, paraffin wax. In 1875 a Louisville druggist named John Colgan began to flavor this chicle.
So, by the 1890s, chewing gum was a huge success. And today, we Americans chew about 10,000 pounds of it.
There’s lots more to this great success story, but we’ll chew on that another time.
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Rix Quinn is a former magazine publisher who works as an independent biographer and broadcaster.