Chewing gum has a surprisingly storied history. Archaeologists have found evidence that the ancient Greeks, the Mayans, and the Aztecs all chewed sticky substances. It was not until the mid 19th century, however, that American entrepreneurs began mass producing gum. By the 20th century, gum had become a staple of American life, so much so that every American soldier in World War I and World War II received regular rations of gum while they were overseas.
Making chewing gum and chocolate for soldiers. One side of the oven room in plant of Frank H. Fleer Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-22.
Making chewing gum and chocolate for soldiers. engine room in plant of Frank H. Fleer Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-21.
Making chewing gum and chocolate for soldiers. general view of pan room of Frank H. Fleer Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-20.
Manufacturing chewing gum. Running gum through press in plant of Beech-Nut Packing Co., Canajoharie, New York. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-19.
Manufacturing chewing gum. Scene in plant of Beechnut Packing Co., Canajoharie, New York. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-18.
Manufacturing chewing gum for fighting men. The packing and shipping department of one of the largest manufacturers of chewing gum. The quartermaster department of the army has placed orders for millions of packages of gum for the men overseas. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-16.
Manufacturing chewing gum for fighting men. The first process in the making of chewing gum is the chopping up of the chicle the chicle is broken into small pieces and reduced to a powder, after which the sifted powder is dried to reduce the greater part of moisture. After the drying the powder is boiled, strained and restrained until every particle of foreign matter is removed. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-15.
Photographs of the Wrigley Factory, CA. 1918:
Wrigley Factory. Extracting all foreign matter from chicle by forcing it through heavy fine-mesh canvas cloths. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-13.
Wrigley Factory. Grinding sugar. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-12.
Wrigley Factory. Gum mixing kettles. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-11.
Wrigley Factory. Case sealing department. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-2.
Wrigley Factory. Case marking department. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-8.
Wrigley Factory. Loading a full car for the Y.M.C.A. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-7.
Wrigley Factory. Weighing bags of granulated sugar in receiving department. Local Identifier: 165-WW-192D-5.
The Unwritten Record has highlighted many records related to World War I, some of which can be viewed here. Additional images related to Chewing Gum during WWI can be viewed on the National Archives Catalog, as well as a 1920 film, Chu Chu (Local Identifier: FC-FC-2489), produced by the Ford Motor Company.