Vintage gum: A relatively modern concept
Perhaps stranger than that tidbit, however, is imagining life in the US before even the oldest of these vintage gum brands existed here.
The history of vintage gum brands in a nutshell
The ancient Aztecs and Maya have long chewed chicle, a natural sap-like product that comes from certain types of trees found in Central America and Mexico.
Chewing gum as a manufacturing enterprise started in the mid-19th century, when inventor Thomas Adams, Sr. figured out how to process the imported chicle gum product into a shelf-stable, flavored and packaged chewing gum.
And the people were ready for it. By the 1880s, Victorians were obsessed with gum — Adams was producing five tons of it a year.
From there, competitors and innovators like William Wrigley, Jr. continued to improve the texture and flavor options, launching Juicy Fruit and Doublemint in 1893 — two brands that are still top sellers today.
Eventually, vintage gum companies moved away from chicle to the synthetic gum base that we’re more familiar with today.
Do you remember the first time you could blow a bubble with bubble gum?
In 1928, Walter Diemer, an employee at Fleer, concocted the formula for Dubble Bubble — thereby creating the first commercial bubble gum, delighting children (and annoying adults) for generations to come.
Beeman’s Original Pepsin Chewing Gum for dyspepsia (1917)
Vintage gum: Hershey’s Mint Flavor Chewing Gum (c1918)
Chiclets – the candy-coated gum (1918)
The tastiest tidbit that ever tickled a tongue! You bet you’ll like that wonderful pep and go — that zippy delightful flavor! Just try Chiclets — then you’ll know!
Peppermint — Tutti-frutti — Spearmint: 10 for 5c. Chiclets — the delicious candy-coated chewing gum.
Vintage gum: Adams California Fruit Gum (1921)
Vintage gum: Adams chewing gum flavors from the 1920s
Old-fashioned Adams Pepsin gum, Yucatan Gum, California Fruit gum, Chiclets, Black Jack licorice flavor chewing gum
Classic Adams Black Jack Gum – Licorice flavor (1926)
Vintage gum: Baby Ruth Gum – Real Mint flavor (1920s)
Old-fashioned Wrigley’s Double Mint Chewing Gum (1935)
Vintage gum: Beech Nut gum brands in 1937
Varieties included: Beechies with a candy coating (spearmint, peppermint & pepsin flavors), Peppermint and spearmint sticks, Oralgene chewing gum
Vintage gum: Clark’s Teaberry and Tendermint gum packs (1942)
Vintage gum (and parenting advice!): Bing Crosby for Fleers Candy Coated Gum from 1946
Bing Crosby… promoting vintage gum and dropping parenting tips that hold up to this day.
“Teensters are positively people! Try to remember, they have a lotta problems… mainly parents. When their jive talk gives you the heebie-jeebies, and their rootin’-tootin’ clothes (Look who’s talking!) make you despair for ‘civilization’… better bear up and shut up. They’ll grow up and get over it, even as you and I.
“Scratch most teen-agers and you’ll find a solid citizen. And when they sound off with ideas for improving the world we made … well, maybe us parents could learn sumpin if we’d stop snooting the kids and listen.” (PS: also see Parenting in the ’40s: Harder than years ago? Are moms too soft? Opinions from the good ol’ days.)
Bing’s message is one of a series presented by Fleer’s to promote better understanding among families, friends and nations. Teen-agers and parents both agree that Fleer’s Gum is mighty fine gum. Try it and you’ll see why there’s a trend to candy-coated… and why Fleer’s leads the trend. Extra flavor. Snowy white. Enjoy Fleer’s today!
Vintage Warren’s Mint Cocktail gum with Jinx Falkenburg (1947)
Vintage gum: Bub Bubble Gum – Fruit flavor (1947)
Vintage gum: Dentyne, plus Chiclets, Clove, Black Jack, Beeman’s (1948)
Vintage gum: Beech Nut gum and square dancing (1952)
Halloween gum: Fleer’s Dubble Bubble
Beech Nut Gum – Vintage baseball ad with Beechies (1953)
Beech Nut gum for Martians (1958)
Old-fashioned Curtiss Spearmint Gum (1950s)
Vintage Fruit Stripe gum ad – Beech-Nut (1960s)
Yipes! Stripes! Cherry, lemon, lime, mixed fruit & orange flavors of Fruit Stripe gum
Retro 60s Clark’s Di-Et gum in 3 flavors (1967)
Sugarfree Spearmint, Peppermint and Cinnamon gum. (Ad artwork by Peter Max.)
Vintage Topps gum brands and varieties from 1975
Shown: Bazooka bubble gum, baseball cards, 17 Candy pennies, Gold Rush gum bags, Big Buddy gum sticks (marshmallow, frosty, cherry, grape, raspberry, lemon-lime and fruit flavors), big Bozo gumballs, lollipops
Retro 70s Smooooth N Juicy bubble gum – Cherry flavor will blow your mind (1978)
Smooth N Juicy gives you everything you could ask for in a bubble gum. It’s soft and smooth! It’s not too gritty or sugary!
Its flavor really lasts! It makes super bubbles! And now it comes in a wild new cherry flavor, as well as luscious fruit. Now that’s something to chew on!
Retro Blammo Sugarless Bubble Gum – Fruit flavor (1976)
Vintage gum: Hubba Bubba gum with no-stick bubbles (1979)
Treat your kids to great big bubbles without any troubles: Introducing Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum with amazing no-stick bubbles.
Gatorgum – the gum from Gatorade (1980)
Juicy Fruit gum TV commercial (1981)
Tiny-size Chicklets flavor-coated gum packages over the years
Vintage chunk-style gum from the 80s
Bubble Yum, Freshen-Up, Hubba Bubba, Bubblicious, Smooooth N Juicy (Flavors include Tropical Punch, Grape, Spearmint, and original bubble gum flavor.)
Vintage gum: Sugarless Bubble Yum Gum from 1984
You devil. Underneath all that sophistication, you’re a kid. A kid who wants to sink her teeth into a juicy chunk of real bubble gum — but doesn’t want the sugar.
Good thing for you there’s new Sugarless Bubble Yum Bubble Gum. In four delicious flavors — mouth-watering regular, glorious grape, scrumptious strawberry and new outrageous orange.
80s Care-Free gum (1985)
Check-Up Sugarless Gum (1986)
Vintage gum: Freedent Gum won’t stick to most dental work (1986)
Big Red cinnamon gum from Wrigley (1989)
Vintage Extra sugarfree gum with Nutrasweet (1991)
Razzles gum/candy: First it’s a candy, then it’s a gum! (1994)
Stick Free peppermint and spearmint gum (1994)
Vintage gum: Competitors work up the gum (1977)
Excerpted from an article by Stan Luxenberg in the News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida) Dec 18, 1977
Trident is riding the crest of the wave . . . Bubble Yum has blown the market wide open . . . Orbit is in a holding pattern. These are some of the bulletins from an industry that has stretched its horizons beyond the imaginings of only five years ago.
Lured by a wave of new products, Americans are chewing gum to the tune of $1 billion this year, up 11 percent from last year, and 100 percent from 1972.
After decades when sales of chewing gum increased at pretty much the same rate as the population, the figures began to show an unexpected surge in the early 1970s. Unit sales suddenly began to increase at the rate of 8 to 12 percent a year, and the industry’s more aggressive companies began bringing out new products and promoting them heavily.
“When they saw they could expand the gum market,” said Myron Lench, editor and publisher of Candy Marketer, a trade magazine, “there was a whole new explosion of creative energy.”
More casual social attitudes have played their role. John Alar, president of the American Chicle division of the Warner-Lambert Company, thinks that schoolteachers, for example, no longer frown so much on gum chewing in the classroom.
Traditionally, teachers were wont to recite such texts as: “A gum-chewing student, a cud-chewing cow — there is a difference, I will allow: It’s the intelligent look on the face of the cow.”
Bubble gum, in particular, seems to have benefited from a looser social environment. “A lot of closet adult bubble gum chewers have been coming out,” said Ronald L. Strauss, director of research for Mesirow & Company. He estimates that bubble gum sales will increase 50 percent this year to $250 million.
New varieties of bubble gum, such as Bubble Yum, and sugarless gum, such as Trident, have spurred industry sales.
The Wrigley company dominated the chewing gum market for decades, accounting for about half of all sales. In the last several years, however, Wrigley has been pushed hard by American Chicle and the Squibb Corporation’s Life Savers division.
Although Wrigley continues to lead in worldwide sales — it grossed $370.2 million last year — analysts such as J. William Leach of Loeb, Rhoades & Company say American Chicle is now running neck and neck with Wrigley in the domestic market, with each company holding about 30 percent.
A conservative company, Wrigley traditionally relied heavily on a big sales staff and the intensive advertising campaigns pioneered by William Wrigley Jr. in the early part of this century. Since its major brands — Juicy Fruit (introduced in 1893), Doublemint (also 1893), and Spearmint (1914) — earned healthy profits, Wrigley saw no reason to tamper with a winning combination.
Slowly, however, Wrigley was flanked by new technology in the form of American Chicle’s Trident sugarless gum. At first, Trident met with limited success. By the early 1970s, though, television messages featuring dentists’ recommendations of Trident began to take hold. People who had preferred sugar gum or candy started reaching for sugarless gum. Factory sales of Trident leaped from $27 million worldwide in 1973 to $80 million last year.
Sugarless products are accounting for 24 percent of all gum sales this year; Trident is leading this field, followed by Life Savers’ Care Free gum. Other companies have jumped in with a range of new entries, including sugarless bubble gum.
Wrigley was slow to respond. Its Orbit gum was introduced only this year. The heavy promotional costs of bringing out the new product cut into Wrigley’s first-quarter earnings, but by the October quarter, Orbit had reached national distribution and seemed on its way toward earning healthy profits…
A brighter spot for Wrigley is its Freedent gum, a product designed not to stick to dentures. Freedent, which tastes like regular gum, solved a problem for denture wearers, and Wrigley now dominates this new, growing segment of the gum market.
Still other innovations are helping to enlarge that market. American Chicle’s liquid-center Freshen-up, for instance. Cinnamon or peppermint flavored, Freshen-up combines the pleasures of candy and gum and also acts as a breath freshener.
Backed by hefty advertising expenditures, “the gum that goes squirt” now accounts for 11 percent of total gum sales. By next year the company expects Freshen-up to be the largest selling brand in the country.