Although various forms of chewing gum type products have been around for centuries, modern chewing gum is said to have been introduced on February 14th, 1871, in Hoboken, according to This Day in New Jersey History. Paraffin and tree gums existed in the United States prior to 1871, but they were not chewing gums in the way it exists today. Thomas Adams introduced his chewing gum as “Adams New York Chewing Gum” in a Hoboken drug store on Valentine’s Day, although there were people in Jersey City who say he sold his gum there the year before.

Adams’ gum was made of chicle which had been brought to the US from Mexico as a possible rubber substitute. It was not suitable for that use but, when cut into strips, served well as chewing gum. Adams gum was a big hit but, according to Wikipedia, competitors such as licorice flavored Black Jack and Chiclets soon appeared and took over the market. In 1893, William Wrigley introduced his Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gums, the success of which made him one of the richest men in America.

Chewing gum really took off during World War II as GIs were given gum in their rations and traded with locals around the world. Bubble gum was introduced in 1928 by William Fleer’s company, it was called Dubble-Bubble, according to History.com. Since those early days, gum manufacturers switched to other sources no longer using chicle for gum as production could not keep up with demand, so a synthetic substitute was developed, evolving over the years. But it all started (supposedly) in Hoboken.

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