History and Story Behind Inventions: Chewing Gum

About the story behind the invention of chewing gum, history and biography of inventor Thomas Adams.

INVENTION: Chewing Gum

INVENTOR: Thomas Adams, U.S.

YEAR: 1872

HOW INVENTED: Actually, long before chewing gum was invented as a product, the Mexican Indians gathered gum from the chicle tree, and tucked pieces in their mouths to keep their cheeks moist when they went on overland treks. Adams, a photographer on Staten Island, N.Y., got hold of a lump of Mexican gum in 1870, and experimented for 2 years trying to create a substitute for rubber. One day he stuck some of this crude gum into his mouth and began to chew it. He liked it. He tried to sell the idea of a chewing gum to a major company, was turned down, and so he began to produce and distribute it himself. Gradually enthusiasm built, and by 1890 Adams had a 6-story chewing-gum factory housing 250 employees--and the chewing-gum craze swept the nation. Upon Adams's death each of his 4 sons inherited a fortune.

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