Yesterday in History: The First Patent for Chewing Gum

Yesterday in History: The First Patent for Chewing Gum

M.C. Millman

One hundred fifty-four years ago yesterday, July 27, 1869, Amos Tyler received U.S. Patent Number 93,141 for "Improved Chewing-Gum Compound."

Amos Tyler, an Ohio resident, filed for the patent even though gum had existed for thousands of years. His version was made of heated white rosin and olive oil, which turned white once it cooled. Ohio History Central recounts that there is no evidence of Tyler ever selling his gum. However, it may have been sold locally in Ohio. 

As with many patents, there's some drama and confusion. Some historians credit William Finley Semple with receiving the first U.S. patent for manufacturing chewing gum on December 28, 1869. Semple's gum was mainly composed of rubber, and as a dentist, he added things like licorice root and charcoal, insisting they would help scrub the teeth. 

Many more businessmen tried to sell chewing gum, but most had trouble making gum that could hold flavor. According to Chewing Gum Facts, in 1880, William White added peppermint extract to gum, which he found lasted longer than other flavors. He called this peppermint version Yucatan gum. 

Today, we have various kinds of gum, including bubble gum, sugar-free gum, and gums in all different flavors. Allied Market Research reports the chewing gum market was valued at $16.1 billion in 2021. The market is projected to reach $26.8 billion by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3% from 2022 to 2031.

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