The Aztecs, as the ancient Mayans before them, used chicle, a natural tree gum, as a base for making a gum-like substance and to stick objects together in everyday use.
Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was brought from Mexico by the former President, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, to New York, where he gave it to Thomas Adams.
Bienvenido Macario says: "A little known story about Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is how chewing gum was developed. After the war ended in 1848, the General Santa Anna was said to have been exiled in New York. Like many Mexicans, Gen. Santa Anna chewed chicle, the dried sap of the sapodilla tree. While in New York, he gave some of the chicle to Charles Adams, an inventor. Adams tried to make several items out of the chicle but failed. Finally, he did what the Mexicans had been doing for years - he chewed it. Soon he added some flavoring and the rest is chewing gum history".
Marketed as Adams New York Chewing Gum in 1871. Black Jack (1884), which is flavored with licorice, Chiclets (1899), and Wrigley's Spearmint Gum were early popular gums that quickly dominated the market and are all still around today. Chewing gum gained worldwide popularity through American GIs in WWII, who were supplied chewing gum as a ration and traded it with locals. Synthetic gums were first introduced to the U.S. after chicle no longer satisfied the needs of making good chewing gum. By the 1960s, US manufacturers had switched to butadiene-based synthetic rubber, as it was cheaper to manufacture.
This graphic shows a ranking of the top 10 countries of the worldwide gum base consumption.
Click here to view the original image of 686x385px.
Chewing gum industry
Two multi-national companies, Wrigley and Cadbury, together account for some 60% market share of the worldwide chewing gum market. The global market shares for the top 5 chewing gum companies are estimated to be:
35% Wrigley Company (USA)
26% Cadbury Trebor Bassett (UK)
14% Lotte (South Korea + Japan)
6% Perfetti Van Melle (Italy)
2% Hershey's (USA)
The remaining 17% of the global market is provided by an estimated 200 to 250 smaller gum companies.
The worldwide chewing gum industry in 2012 is estimated to be worth $26 billion in sales, and has grown by more than 14% in the last 3 years.
Chewing gum accounts for 85% of global sales, and bubble gum the other 15%.