We think of chewing gum as a modern
American invention. But this is only partly true. For thousands of years people
have chewed gum resin, a juice collected from trees. In Mexico, for example,
Indians have long chewed chicle, the gum resin from the sapodilla tree.
In 1850 Mexico and the United States
fought a war over Texas. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana led the Mexican
soldiers. When Mexico lost the war, Santa Ana had to leave his country. He went
to live in New York and he took with him a large amount of chicle.
An American inventor, Thomas Adams,
bought some chicle from Santa Ana. He wanted to make the chide into rubber but
his plan failed. Adams then decided that chicle was better as something to
chew, In 1871 he made and sold the first gum balls. These gum balls were a
Then, in the 1890s, a man named William
Wrigley first made chewing gum as we know it today, William Wrigley had little
education or money, but he had an idea. He made gum into flat sticks and added
special flavors. Today, Wrigley's Spearmint gum and Juicy Fruit gum are among
the most popular chewing gums in America.
How did modern chewing gum spread from
the United States to other countries? During World War I and World War II, the
U.S, Army found that chewing gum kept soldiers from getting thirsty. So
American soldiers were given chewing gum each day. The soldiers who fought in
Europe often gave gum to the people they met. Gum became as popular as it was
in the United States. Today, of course, chewing gum can be found around the