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Chews Your Favorite Oldies . . .

 
Vintage Gums

 

Daaaa-gum! They're baaaaack! Beeman's, Black Jack, Clove. Get 'em while we got 'em!

If you know much about old-fashioned candies and gums, you'll know that many have gone the way of the dinosaur-- they're extinct until someone makes a Jurassic Park or, you know, buys the rights to manufacture the old classics. Unlike the velociraptors, the candies and gums are welcome. And I don't know about you, but this old dinosaur gets as giddy as a kid when I see old favorites from my childhood coming back. And I am happy to tell you, dear reader, that we have at least a limited run of three such favorite gums: Clove, Black Jack, and Beeman's.

I probably don't have to tell you what a cult following these gums have here at Mast Store. But I will. We usually get as much as they'll sell us when the company (there have been a few through the years) who owns these gums makes its limited run. And they sell like the proverbial hotcakes. Folks even buy these in bulk to freeze for hard times. It's like we're living through a gum depression here at Mast. But I understand needing to have them on hand. They're delicious and take you back to the good old days. Somewhere we all like to visit. That's why we offer them by the carton of 20 as well as single packs. And why we run out faster than you can say whippersnapper.

A question I had was just how did these cult-favorite gums come to be . . . rabbit hole. Yep, got lost. But it led to a little light reading. The history of chewing gum itself makes for an interesting read. Did you know, for instance, that almost all ancient cultures chewed some gum? Resins, actually, but therein lies the origin of one of America's most popular treats. You can read about the history of gum from an archeologist's POV in the book Chicle: the Chewing Gum of the Americas-- from Ancient Maya to William Wrigley.

Many civilizations and tribes of peoples all across the globe chewed gum for medicinal purposes. And when it was first introduced in the United States in the 19th century, that was still its purpose in being offered commercially. According to the Smithsonian.com, the Mayans and Aztecs were the first to unlock the positive properties of gum (Smithsonian article). America didn't hop on the trend until 1848, relatively recent on the world calendar and stage, when John B. Curtis offered the product known as gum for sale. That gum was a pure spruce gum from the state of Maine.

Then, not too many years down the road, a pharmacist had a brilliant idea for how to sell more of his pepsin product to consumers. Put it in the popular product, gum. And thus Beeman's was born. The pepsin gum.

 

 


An ad for Beeman's Original Pepsin Gum in The Saturday Evening Post. You can click on the image to see it in a larger format. 

Beeman’s was originally marketed as an aid to digestion, due to the fact that the original formula contained pepsin and chicle. It became part of the American Chicle Company in 1898. Known as the lucky gum of pilots, the gum grew in popularity due to its ability to settle stomach acid in flight. Beeman's was even mentioned several times in the movie "The Right Stuff."

Below: Scenes from The Right Stuff between Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) and Jack Ridley (Levon Helm) of the pre-flight ritual.

 

Even though Beeman's made headlines, each gum has its following. 

Black Jack was the first flavored gum sold, and I believe, the first stick gum. According to our new manufacturer, the gum’s creator, Thomas Adams, purchased chicle in the hopes of turning it into rubber. When that plan failed, he pursued gum instead, and in 1871 Black Jack was born.

Clove was manufactured a little later than the first two in 1914 and was rumored to be a great way to disguise alcohol breath-- if you know the power of clove, you know how strong it can be. It also has numbing properties, so don't be alarmed, first-time chewers, if your mouth has a lil' clove case of analgesic effect.

Try one, try all, and you too will chews to become a cult follower of these old-fashioned fan favorites. You can get your starter pack, 5 pieces for .99, or go big for us hoarders and pick up a 20-pack or two ($19.80) in stores and online! Y'all gum back now, ya hear?!

*Gum historical and current production information sourced from Gerrit Verburg, the new manufacturer of these three gums.