Geek Trivia

Chewing Gum Was Originally Made From?

Dried Jellyfish
Coal Tar
Which Entire Family Of Plants, Save For A Sole Exception, Is Only Indigenous To The Americas?

Answer: Trees

Chewing gum as we now know it—candy pink, sweet, and perfect for blowing bubbles as big as our heads—is a relatively recent invention and made of a mixture of dyes, sweeteners, and synthetic rubber (you read that correctly, the gum you buy down at the corner store is made of butadiene-based synthetic rubber).

Long before chemists were cooking up new and more interesting kinds of chewing gum in the laboratory, however, people were using a natural form of the stuff made of various tree saps and tars. In fact, humans have been chewing gum in some form for thousands of years. Chewing gum made from birch bark tar has been found, teeth imprints and all, in 6,000 year old archaeological sites in Finland. Native Americans chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees, Aztecs and Mayans chewed a natural tree gum known as “chicle” from sapodilla trees, and Ancient Greeks chewed mastic gum made from the resin of the mastic tree.

In fact, well into the 20th century, chewing gum was still made from tree byproducts, primarily the aforementioned “chicle” imported from Central America. Unfortunately, unsustainable harvesting methods used to increase yields to meet the high demand killed a significant portion of the sapodilla trees by the mid-1930s. By the end of the 20th century, the vast majority of chewing gum was made from synthetic rubbers and has remained so ever since.