Genesis of Chewing Gum
Way before bubble gum made its red carpet entry into the confectionery market, chewing gum was popularly chewed by the masses. If you are wondering who invented chewing gum and when, then you would be pleasantly surprised by the fact that chewing gums have been around for over 2000 years.
Ancient Greeks chewed a gummy substance obtained from the resin of the mastic tree. Moreover, the Mayans were also known to enjoy chewing a gummy substance called chicle, attained from the sap of the Sapodilla tree. North American Indians were seen to relish chewing the sap from spruce trees.
The credit for introducing the first commercial chewing gum called State of Maine Spruce Gum goes to John B. Curtis. However, the first modern chewing gum was brought forth to the masses by Thomas Adams in the 1860s, who is credited to being the man behind modern chewing gum, that we are all familiar with.
By the early 1870s, Thomas Adams was selling his Adams New York gum to scores of drug stores for a penny each. He even patented his machine for manufacturing gum in 1871. By 1888, Adam's chewing gums were the first ones to be sold in vending machines set up in New York's subway station.
Who Invented Bubble Gum
Two people, Frank Fleer and Peter Meijer from Fleer Chewing Gum Company, in Philadelphia, are known to come out with the first bubble gum in 1906. However, what they invented was too sticky to be chewed and never made its entry into the confectionery market, although, Fleer company gave Frank's sticky gum the name 'Blibber-Blubber'.
Moreover, another company from Ohio, claimed to have come up with bubble gum. But, the gum they produced was only capable of being popped outside the lips.
The first genuine bubble gum was invented in 1928, by Mr. Walter E. Diemer, a fledgling accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia. He often enjoyed playing with gum ingredients during his spare times and began testing various recipes for gum bases, as this hobby thoroughly intrigued him.
It so happened that in 1928, he inadvertently created the first batch of bubble gum by inventing a gum that was less sticky and stretchier than the regular chewing gum. In Mr. Walter's words, "It was an accident, I was doing something else and ended up with something with bubbles.''
He needed food coloring to add to his stretchier gum base and managed to find only pink and added to his batch. Now we know where the traditionalistic pink color of the bubble gum hails from! He took his first 5 pound batch of bubble gum to a grocery store in Philadelphia and called it double bubble. The entire batch sold out in one afternoon!
He didn't have to struggle to convince his buyers to purchase it, unlike Ruth Handler of Mattel Company, who had some convincing trouble before her Barbie dolls hit the skies! However, Walter Diemer did not have the patent to his invention on his name and he also never received any money for his invention.
Fleer Company took the bubblegum recipe and began selling it. Mr. Diemer contributed in the promotion of double bubble and taught salesmen how to blow bubbles with the gum. However, he did eventually become the vice president of Fleer and oversaw construction of bubble gum plants in Barcelona and Philadelphia and traveled across the globe marketing the gum.
Until World War II, Fleer company enjoyed the first movers advantage and had all the market share to themselves. It was only after the World War, when Topps Company of Brooklyn came up with their gum called Bazookas, wrapped in comics, that Fleer faced competition with respect to market share.
Bubble gum today has become a part and parcel of everybody's life. Bubble gum blowing contests are popular in several regions of the world. Susan Montgomery Williams of California holds the Guinness Book of World Records for blowing the largest bubble ever blown. The bubble was 23 inches in diameter!
Walter Diemer's invention of the bubblegum continues to delight children across the globe and will continue to delight kids for scores of generations.