Chicle: the chewing gum of the Americas, from the ancient Maya to William Wrigley
University of Arizona Press, Jun 15, 2009 - Business & Economics - 142 pages
Although Juicy Fruit® gum was introduced to North Americans in 1893, Native Americans in Mesoamerica were chewing gum thousands of years earlier. And although in the last decade biographies have been devoted to salt, spices, chocolate, coffee, and other staples of modern life, until now there has never been a full history of chewing gum. Chicle is a history in four acts, all of them focused on the sticky white substance that seeps from the sapodilla tree when its bark is cut. First, Jennifer Mathews recounts the story of chicle and its earliest-known adherents, the Maya and Aztecs. Second, with the assistance of botanist Gillian Schultz, Mathews examines the sapodilla tree itself, an extraordinarily hardy plant that is native only to Mesoamerica and the Caribbean. Third, Mathews presents the fascinating story of the chicle and chewing gum industry over the last hundred plus years, a tale (like so many twentieth-century tales) of greed, growth, and collapse. In closing, Mathews considers the plight of the chicleros, the extractors who often work by themselves tapping trees deep in the forests, and how they have emerged as icons of local pop culture portrayed as fearless, hard-drinking brawlers, people to be respected as well as feared. Before Dentyne® and Chiclets®, before bubble gum comic strips and the Doublemint® twins, there was gum, oozing from jungle trees like melting candle wax under the slash of a machete. Chicle tells us everything that happened next. It is a spellbinding story.
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The Birth of the Chewing Gum Tree
The Botany of the Sapodilla Tree
The History of the Chewing Gum Industry in the Americas
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Achras sapota Alcorn American Chicle Company ancient Maya Anon archaeological archaeologists Aztec bark Barrera de Jorgenson bats Beech-Nut Belize bitumen Botanical Brooklyn Brooklyn Daily Eagle century Chadha chew chicle chewing gum chewing gum companies chewing gum industry Chiapas chicle camps chicle extraction chicle industry chicle latex chicle-based chicleros City cooking copal cultivars culture Dibble and Anderson exportation Fleer Florentine Codex flowers forest grafting Guatemala gum base gum industry gum manufacturing Hanighen harvesting Hendrickson henequen insects jungle Karling Konrad Kute and Shete Landon Lundell Macduff Everton Manilkara zapota Mathews and Lizama-Rogers Mesoamerican Mexico Mickelbart Morton natural Peissel percent personal communication Peten plant pollen production Quintana Roo Redclift resin rubber Sahagun Santa Anna sapodilla tree sapodilla wood sapota Scheina Schwartz season seedlings seeds species spruce gum sticks tapped Tikal Topps tropical United Washington Post wild William Wrigley Jr workers York Yucatan Peninsula