Chewing Gum Through the Ages
The Mastic Tree
The mastic tree is a small tree that grows in Greece. Ancient Greeks used to chew on its resin, which dripped from the tree in liquid form and dried into hard bits. As the Greeks chewed, the resin softened and become gum. Mastic gum has a piney flavor.
The Mayans chomped on gum as well, using chicle as their gum base. The chicle tree is native to Mexico and Central America. To get at the gum, the Mayans made gashes along the trunk in zigzag pattern and collected the drippings, which were then boiled until thickened. Until the 1960s, chicle was the main ingredient in gum. Then, it was replaced with artificial gum bases.
The Spruce Tree
American Indians from the Northeast chewed resin from spruce trees. They passed this habit along to the early American settlers who, by the 1800s started selling lumps of the gum. This made spruce gum the first commercial chewing gum