This is another one of those 20+ years old essays I wrote a while back on a 286 IBM PC, with about 50k ROM.  This PC was just a few generations more advanced in the marketplace than my 1982 SanyoMBC I had just replaced, with its 2kb hardrive and two 5.25″ disk readers.

I included this article I guess more for just posterity sake.  Better stated, I include it due to the several years worth of effort I went through for this project, which is a nice way to say I was obsessed with it for a while.

On occasion, if you type my name to search for me on the web, you come up with some records about my work with the American Advertising Museum (AAM), Portland, OR in 1986 and 1987.  This museum was opened for visitors in the winter of 1986 by the Portland Advertising Federation.  This museum always had this aspect of it that seemed unfitting–its founder was not a non-profit, but rather into advertising, and was very much into generating money by this process.  The location placed the museum where it was easy to visit for tourists, but this factor in the long run didn’t add to its future potential.  The mixed traffic led the museum to relocate several times and ultimately shut its doors 18 years later in 2004.  ‘Twas the first of its kind in terms of topics, but in terms of ultimate fate perhaps, “advertising, sales and revenues” weren’t necessarily its owners’ fortés.  See wikisite for History of AAM.


American Advertising Museum, Portland, OR.  1986-2004.  R.I.P.

Nevertheless, during my time at this place, I took advantage of the opportunity to review its entire library, researching a number of products that I uncovered with a medical/medical history worth exploring.  As a medical student in New York, I became one of the very first members of the Medical Collector’s Association [MCA] around 1983.  The MCA, in one of its first numbers, mentioned my first days there volunteering, about a half year before the museum was even opened to the public.  At the time, I was checking out the prospects so to speak.  I landed that position by walking in, because the front door was left unlocked, and took the stairs up to the second floor and bumped into the security guard and its owner.  He was interviewing the future Director of the museum at the time.

I could tell right away that many of the products on display at this museum were medical, and so these attracted me to it and subsequently I started researching them for the AAM, on Fridays and weekends mostly, whilst tending to the front desk.   The museum was opened to the public some time around March 1986.  By then, the security guard there and myself came to know the building quite well, including its tunnels in the basement where a single show remained next to what may have been a cement shelf for people to sleep on.

The bottom floor of this building was famous.  It was the longest bar in the world in the late 1800s.  It was two buildings length, and served locally brewed beer, more than likely including some of the most famous beers on the west coast brewed by Henry Weinhard.  Weinhard’s ales, beers and root beer were just a few of the unique items related to this place.  At the time people were shanghai’ed at this location, spitting was illegal.  That was because of the consumption of tuberculosis that seemed to follow many of the old time boatsmen who frequented the city.  Just a block over was a bordello.  Just before it the oldest rails in the city, still visible to the naked eye.  One day they had to move some of the street pavement above the old bricks there, and set them aside.  This allowed for some old unexposed seeds to grow, from a flower native to Chile!  The bricks doubled as ballast at time, and the pits in them could very well have been how this seed made its way to its mirror image location on the northern side of the equator.


Shanghai Shoes

Like all cities, patent medicines with a medical history had their stay in Portland, Oregon as well.  There has always been numerous oddities in the history of medicine for medical collectors like myself to become curious about.  The American Advertising Museum had these features on display.

Some of the better known products in Patent Medicine history were local it ended up, due to their unique history.  The role of the City of Portland in such business from 1845 to present did occasionally come up enough times for me to consider it worth exploring.   When electricity lit up the buildings for the first time, it is no coincidence for example that one of these was the odd-fellows building, where seancers, fortune tellers, and other seers from various cultures practiced their art in this place.  The one chiropodist (podiatrist) of the city for the time, “Wild Bill”, had an office there.  The experts in the new phrenology worked this building as occupation counselors.  The most talents of those gifted in this building had a superstition about ‘8’; their offices were rooms 8, 88, 888, 808, etc. and an occasional numerologic equivalent like 44, 125, 350, etc.   The most popular public baths were the Turkish Baths all over the downtown area.  Acupuncture was being practiced by MD doctors, these MDs were more than likely eclectics, and had their offices in Chinatown just 4 to 6 blocks over.  Prostitution was big, and legal.  Opium was available in abundant supply.  The latest sexual aphrodisiac from China was being heavily marketed in the local newspaper.  The number one profession next to nurses and doctors in the Northwest Section of the City adjacent to Good Samaritan Hospital were the Christian Science healers, each of whom was separately listed in the business directory for this time, under the same unique header “Christian Scientists”.


There were also two medical schools in operation about this time–the older school from southern Wallamett River valley had moved up to the city to compete with the medical school affiliated with today’s Oregon Health Sciences Center.  The differences between these two were philosophical, and at times caused differences to erupt between what was good medicine and what was bad medicine.  The City School also had its City Pharmacy and City teaching hospital and health care facilities.  But it did not own the Good Samaritan Hospital.   That strongly religious-minded school had its own unique doctors–who believed in electric healing.  Their competitor was against such a philosophy.  As a result there were two separate schools with two different course offerings for a while.  The highly religiophilic nuns of Good Samaritan favored prayer and cure, and thus is maybe why their neighborhood was so rich in Christian Scientists.  But this religiophilic nature also made the nuns favor more the homeopathic teachings, which were always based mostly on metaphysical philosophy.  Downtown, in the heart of the city, the Homeopathic Hospital opened its doors, but briefly, and was right next door to the allopathically-run City Pharmacy down there.  That only meant more chaos upon chaos so to speak.

In 1906, the Patent Medicine industry was put under watch by the passage of the Food and Drug Act.  This impacted any and all medicines out there, but sometimes missed a product or two.  In 1915, the passage of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act made up for those mistakes.  But still had only a partial impact on certain markets.  The Chewing Gum market was one of those untouched or inadequately monitored markets at first due to these changes.  Portland’s Chewing Gum industry would at first benefit and then lose its ground due to this legal history.

Ultimately, reviewing all of this history at the time of my work at AAM, it was my discovery of the placement of a major manufacturer of Chewing Gum into this city and part of the country that seemed most unusual to me.  Until I got to know the city, its impact on the regional economy, its multicultural and social social attitudes for the time, it didn’t seem to make sense to me as to how and why Portland became a chewing gum manufacturing center so far away from the places where the product for making chewing gum came from–Mexico–and far north of the densest cities on the west coast located down in California–and even further from the developing megalopolis of the U.S. on the east coast.

Just across the road from the AAM building in Portland was a row of buildings that served as offices and warehouses for the ships coming in throughout the year.  Some of these ships were from South America and Mexico, and bore numerous food crops and agricultural goods.  Even as early as the 1850s, a large amount of product came to Oregon from places on opposite sides of the equator, such as Chile.  On board the vessels from Mexico there were a number of very unique natural products. But the most unique of all had to be the latex bricks being shipped up from Mexico and Central America’s western shoreline harbors.


Newton’s Gum Company from San Francisco sold office equipment mostly.  

(Did Gum originally refer to mucilage-gum market?)

Link to Newton Gum Co. catalogue

The Newton Gum Manufacturing Company opened a small facility right on the edge of downtown Portland where these docks were built.  It had direct access to one or more docks for access to the merchant ships which came in by way of Willamette river.  There was a small, one to three floor factory-like setting established in one of those building located across the road from the unloading facilities. I believe it was more a warehouse setting than a manufacturing site, for storing the products as they came in by ship, for associated with Newton Gum was a nearby furniture distributor.  Chewing gum was often marketed as an aside to other popular things–an attractant of new customers, the free gift you would get for stopping donw at the shop.

This Newton Gum Company storage facility was also right next to a sailor’s bordello.  ( The old Sanborn map literally says “Cheap Hotel” on its label for this spot).  The company probably had plans to use this place for taking orders and shipping its products since it was so close to the docks.

The association between the Newton Company in general, its major products, and chewing gum was by namesake at best.   This opportunity would make Newton Gums one of the first “chewing gum distributors” for the Pacific Northwest in the city of Portland, Oregon, a neat claim for such a new industry , but barely true perhaps.  Roll-top desks, cash registers, safes, trunks, clocks, phonographs, scales, furniture, and an essential for this city, umbrellas were the mainstays for this business.  not chewing gum, nor any other similar line of business brought in from back east like chewing tobacco, licorice sticks, caramelized popcorn and the like.

While continuing my work with AAM on the west coast, I kept this particular company name in mind.  Until I could figure out what I had uncovered some more, I was hesitant about sharing it much with anyone else.

At first I imagined the facility to be a manufacture facility for chewing gum, but I was probably wrong.  It looked way too small.

One of the funny things about studying chewing gum is no one really takes you seriously within the library and academic settings.

One day, while standing in line at a library, waiting to speak with a reference librarian, I saw this behavior arise.  Finally at the front of the line, I was asked what I was researching and told the librarian I was researching “the history of chewing gum.”  Even the sound of that response didn’t seem to have much of a ring to it.

And so I quickly learned to reword what I was doing–I realized the best thing to do was call it was a study of ethnobotanical and economic history of Achras sapota, a Mexico natural resource.  That had much better ring to it for a Pacific Northwest history library.

And no wonder, there was less than a handful of people who searched this topic before me I would discover in the years to come.  In found only one book on its history to order by interlibrary loan, and few if any books about the use of latex for chewing gum.  Even the chemistry of this natural latex was a hard product to look up in the chemical references.  What scanty evidence I did find was in the old science journals, adding to the mystery of this industry, which perhaps is a main  reason I stuck with it for so long.

So, between 1987 and 1990, I managed to go through the numerous trade magazines at the museum library, main library and local government archives locations on chewing gum, chicle and the patent medicine industry.  The local museum association had an advertising magazine, but nothing in it about chicle or chewing gum.  In the years to come I also took several trips to NYC once or twice a year to look this up in the NY Public Library.


As a part of this venture, I met up several times with the locally famous Bill Naito (above) during my research.  He was a local citizen of Japanese descent whose family was treated quite poorly by the U.S. during the Second World War.  During his younger years, he was placed in one of our concentration camps for a while.

By the time I moved to Portland in 1985, he did more than simply recover from his tragic personal experience living in a concentration camp.  He essentially owned much of downtown Portland’s most important properties, office buildings and public gathering places.  He owned the land beneath Burnside Bridge, which he leased for $1 per year to to the Portland Saturday Market for its use.  He also owned some of the newer buildings established in the outskirts of the Northwest District (i.e. the Nike facility).  Bill Naito is / was the most important contributor to the city of Portland throughout the mid the late 20th century.  Yet, he was a person that surprisingly you could talk with, if you got the chance.  And I took advantage of that several times in my years studying his buildings and their role in Portland’s unique history.


PSM as a social organism . . . with a life all its own!!!

My most important opportunity to meet him came while talking with him one Saturday while working at AAM.  My second opportunity came when I wandered into the Newton Gum Building and talked with the receptionist, and learned more about his sociability.  My third opportunity came when a good friend of mine got the job as one of his building security workers, who told me Bill Naito was generally very easy to talk with.  So, I visited his personal office building, with its entrance on the west face of the building Newton Gum Company was originally in.  Mr. Naito and his secretary gave me the insights I needed to know to determine how the place looked before he redeveloped this building, the floor plans for the period before it became a series of offices, condos, and the like, along with his personal office.

It ends up that this facility was like the historical businesses once occupying the AAM building.  It was in the heart of a hustling city (hustling, not bustling, in reference to things beside the bordellos that you’re about to read about).  The business there involved not only beer and bordellos but also Shang-Hai tunnels, which local historians like myself loved to learn about and talk about.  Portland was in fact a city with some of the most important, most famous shang-hai tunnel history in the U.S.  The managers who were engaged in this “entrepreneureal practice” did so by “doping the drinks at the pub”, which was quite easy at the time, being the heart of the opium industry was also being practice quite active in the adjacent tunnels and “mental relaxation rooms”.  (see the article on Erickson’s Saloon, at )


From: Discover True North – A Travel BLOG

Other tales about the tunnels beneath include some of the more typical stories we often learn about–detailing the use of these facilities as combined opium dens and sex chambers — a fantasy for some, so long as they didn’t pass out (see Tina Foster’s coverage and pictures on this–  ).

So, it ended up the block I was working on in Portland, initially via the Advertising Museum, and later as a Saturday Market employee, wasn’t your typucal run-of-the-mill late 19th century manufacturing facility from the past.  The AAM building I was in had the longest bar in the world in its basement, with tunnels that went under at least two blocks.  To visit this part of the city today is fairly easy.   Walk from Saturday Market into the very old China Town, until you come upon a cornerside restaurant sign which made this part of the city popular, even for those not interesting in booze and prostitutes.  This restaurant even stayed open late into the night, later than most restaurants in this city–and well past midnight.  This number one place for me and my friends to hang around in late in the day, and for my friends who were more tourists at times, searching for places to see and photograph, all I had to do was tell them we’re walking up to my favorite chewing gum factory building, and then show them this as we passed by it–that sign said “Hung Far Low”.


Oops! missed that little detail in this photo with the bottom light when I first posted it.  

Was it due to a lights out, a common vandalism prank, or a dark cover?

Not that this is unique to the region–about the same time, Tad’s Chicken and Dumplings on Historic Columbia River Highway, Sandy River, Sandy, Or, had half its lights out and looked like it said “Chick Dump” (a past girlfriend was a waitress there).

These shang hai tunnels passed beneath the sidewalks and directed you towards the edge of some loading docks just 2 and 3 short blocks away.  The exits into the harbor or water edge had passages that were located one or two levels underground, because the water height often varied.  Where ever they opened up, they led you directly through the portals that led into the ships.  Too inebriated to walk, or walking under your own power, you probably had little to no idea where you were about to sleep for the night.  In your mind, you were probably hoping the opium dens or with a working class lady to “make you happy”.

Back before these tunnels were ever close to being opened (late 1980s), while working at AAM, I had the opportunity to view them several times, thanks to the AAM security worker there (cannot recall his name).  Todays, some of these portals are open hold tours.  This place has since become one of the best tourist attractions in the city, if you’re into something unique.


But back to the role of AAM on American Advertising and Medical history and my work on chewing gum – – I was surprised to see that there were plenty of resources for me to work with in the Pacific Northwest on patent medicines.   I liked focusing on the marketing and the social roles of health, medicine, looking and behaving healthy, being healthy, and the uses of patent medicines.  One Saturday afternoon, after completing my work at AAM, I took my regular trip through the Northwest part of the city, walking down the back streets, through the heart of where industry and commerce were once very active in the early 1900s, heading, as usual, towards the hottest spot in the city for “new age” people around that time–NW 23rd Street.

And along the way to NW 23rd, I often took the route needed to pass by this building . . . .


I always walked by the old American Chicle Company building, sometime around 6 or 7 pm, sometimes after first stopping at Powell’s Books.

This building I came to know as the Gann Building, due to the company that then owned this building with its name displayed plainly on the door and through its front windows.

The Gann building was just up the hill past Powell’s Books, on your left.  Next to it was this tee-shirt printing factory I’d often look into as well, the main employers of which were twenty years olds, often dressed Gothic, Leather, Punk or some other Art Nouveaux style for the period; their hair colors that seemed overly neon at times.  And you couldn’t miss them through the street side windows of the buildings they worked, especially late night.

I can still remember the day I walked by the Gann building, looked up at its top, and realized the name “American Chicle Company” was there on the right side of this building, over its center.   It took me another block  and a half of walking (after the right turn at 16th) to realize the meaning of this company name.  The word “chicle” could only mean one thing I thought and that had to be chewing gum, and one of the things I really liked to study at the time was directly related to this–plant products.


This picture – is thanks to the Gann Brothers Printing company itself!  (7-2013)

I turned around, walked back to that building, gazed up at the company name, and asked myself–“what in the heck is the American Chicle Company doing here in–of all places–Portland, Oregon?!”  (Remember, less than a year had passed since my moving from NY.)

If it were not for the case that a national chewing gum company was here in Portland, Oregon, of all places, I may not have pursued this line of interest any further.  But I had to know the answer to this question and so one day, seeing someone in the corner office, I got up the courage to walk in and ask the building owner about this piece of the building’s history (more on that in a bit).

That led me to then ask how did the chicle get to this place, since it was so far off the main path of international trade?  California made more sense for the industry, or perhaps Seattle, not a city more than 100 miles inland from the Pacific shores like Portland, Oregon.


Note: In July 2013, the (obvious) answer to that question was finally handed over to me by the Gann Brothers, the sons of the owner of this business at the time I was researching chemical; so to them I am thankful for solving this great mystery. . .  

The Great San Francisco Earthquake is why the factory moved!

The first part of my study of chewing gum was now underway from this point on.  To look this company up I first went to the Multnomah Library, to look up the company name I referred to past business directories, newspapers and maps.  I then went to the Oregon Historical Society to see the old Sanford Maps and business directories.  I then went back to the main library to review the legal section of Multnomah library, hoping to find some documented history about a company with this name and the reason for a particular article that appeared in the Oregonian–stating that the American Chicle had been accused of “Mislabeling.”


AAM is across the street at the upper left corner (building not shown).  Pin is provided to show where the Newton Gum Company was.  The famous Portland Saturday Market is under the Burnside Bridge, in front of the building facing us. The entrance leading to Naito’s office is on the left (west) face where it says “United Fund”; AAM is one block west of there.  Note also the Japanese American Historical Plaza on the waterfront in the upper right corner.

The directories listed American Chicle Company, but the maps at the Oregon Historical Society [OHS] showed even more.  There was also a company in the building down by the water front in 1902 that was not the company I was searching for.  It was the Newton Gum Company, a name that could be barely read through the layer of new ownership labels pasted over it.   So the next version of this tale to me seemed to be, first there was Newton Gum down on the waterfront, and then the more successful American Chicle Co., which decided to expand further inland from the river.  Later, by learning the history of how the American Chicle Company came to be, by buying out competitors, I figured this was a case of an small local company being bought out by its larger competitor.

Reviewing the Historical Sites registry information at OHS, and the floor plans filed at the Portland records building, and the tax records for this building, I noticed the transition in its naming and labeling to the Gann building in the past decade or two.  This was due to its purchase and transfer of ownership of this building to the owner of  Gann Printing, Steven Gann.


Steve Dimitri Gann  (April 17, 1927 – February 15, 2013), from facebook . . .

quite unfortunately, I learned that he recently passed . . .

he is one of the best examples of local printers delving into local Pacific NW needs and issues . . .

See Gann Bros. facebook site

So, a month or so later, I went back to the Gann Building during the business hours to continue my pursuit of this history.

Its owner Steve Gann was nice enough to meet with me in his office, give me a tour of the facility, and then we sat in his office and he filled me in with a surprising amount of information he had gathered about this building.  He told me the third floor had to be relaid and “cleaned” considerably of its cobwebs; that maybe it was storage but seemed to be used for manufacturing, but when I asked him about any latex pieces or blocks he told me that now were lying there when he cleaned the place.  The facility was pretty much usable the way it was.  He also told me that the squarish cut cross beams that formed the building were still the original beams, and had survived even a large fire that once was there decades earlier, due mostly to their size and the fact that unlike steel beams, did not melt during the fire.

After an hour of so of talking about the floor plans, the land docking entrance on the east face, the possible uses for each floor and how much weight each floor could bear, I left with a good idea on what the building was like during the chewing gum manufacturing years. Unlike what I initially thought when I entered Gann’s office, I left suspecting that the third floor was where the crude  latex was sent to for the initial manufacturing of the gum quality end product, where it was formed and cut into strips.  The boxing and such done of these strips took place on floor 2, and the end product readied for shipping on floor 1.


A collage I drew from the images at this nice Gann Bros. facebook site, thanks to his son(s).

Once all of this was over, all seemed said and done for a brief moment to me, but it still hadn’t successfully answered my question, ‘why did the national company that produced the first chewing gum set up in Portland of all places?’  ‘why was Portland once the heart of Chicle manufacturing back in the early 1900s?’  To answer these questions took me another 2 1/2 to 3 years, on and off.

In time I traced out that part of the history of all of this company, including work on the proximity of the chewing gum manufactory to the commuter rails that led from Northeast Portland, across the Willamette, up Broadway and then across 14th to take you to the industrial area between NW 14th and NW 23rd.   Finally, everything made sense as to how and why a large company in Portland came to be.


Two or three blocks south of the loading dock across the street from Newton Gum.  

For more old Portland images go to

The next year or two of research taking me through the government documents and legal records of this local industry answered the remaining questions for me.  The patenting of chewing gum as a latex and a food product was new to the patent industry.  A process initiated with the goal of producing a substitute for latex brought over from the Philippines for manufacturing rubber failed miserably as a rubber substitute but became quite successful as this unique new commodity.  Very quickly this new plant product became worth its weight and volume in gold to US entrepreneurs, who successfully marketed it as the replacement for Maine’s spruce gum.  Thus the chewing gum market was born, with all of its charm, beauty, splendor and bad habits that came to be over the years.


Stephen Britten 

After chicle replaced spruce gum thereby defining the chewing gum industry due to the very talented businessman and entrepreneur Stephen T. Britten.  Britten was a unique business man, not a chemist, and was a successful marketer of other commodities design to take advantage of the the human masticatory habit.  It ends up that chewing gum is somewhat like licorice, hot dogs, soda and popcorn, or perhaps better stated, tree twigs and chewing tobacco.  Except that more like the first few, it became a mega-industry with global distribution catering to almost every age group and culture in the world, save the Africans who chew the miswak from the Arak tree (Salvadora persica).   The only other matching candy trade for the time with similar growth and novelty was black licorice, another product from Central America, developed, marketed and promoted by the same leader in this unique field.


Beside the unique advertising and ethnobotany history attached to the chewing gum business, this particular company’s history includes the ever-famous tale of “mislabeling” charges, in which the company was brought to court regarding claims to the content of a product.

At the time, one of the hurdles I had to go through in my own career was to produce a monograph devoted to  a single plant–a complete essay on the history, anthropology and contemporary cultural and scientific values of just one plant species. Richard Evans Schultz did his monograph on the arrow poison Ouabain and experimented with several religious ceremonial drugs. Andrew Weil, Schultes’ student, did his monograph on Coca leaf (something we never really hear about now regarding his “exploratory years”). For me, it was the Mexican-Yucatan Achras sapota and chewing gum.

By the time I finished this research, I was teaching natural products chemistry at the local Portland State University, a position which I held until 2002.

Note:  As usual for my archaic Wordstar essays, the footnotes didn’t transfer over, and so appear only as references listed at the end of the article. The date of this writing is ca. 1992-3. I am still hunting down the notes, illustrations, photocopies, and photographs taken for this essay (between the 5.25″ and 3″ floppies and maybe a zipdrive disk or two).






The practice of chewing on leaves, nuts, and twigs is an ancient one carried on by various cultures around the world. The Central and South Americans for example chewed on the Coca leaf. Filipinos chewed on the Betel nut, which gave a stimulatory effect to the nervous system. Africans chewed on twigs, some of which were rich in plant dyes and were meant to stain the teeth, others were intended to cleanse the mouth and breath due to their resins and/or saponins.

For centuries, gums, balsams and resins have been used to satisfy hunger and thirst, alleviate fatigue, and reduce stress such as when hunting. Similarly, the latex-producing Sapodilla tree (Manilkara sapota, formerly Achras zapota), has helped the Mayan and Aztec civilizations survive for several thousand years in Central and South America. The Mayans used Sapodilla as an herbal medicine known by the Yucatans as “ya”. Its fruit, known as sapota, served as one of their most important food sources. Tzitzle, or chicle gum, produced from its latex, became quite popular centuries following its initial discovery, when the Europeans and Euro-Americans for the second time witnessed its use following an invasion of the Central American and Mexican social structure, an event which culminated in the introduction of Chicle to the chewing gum industry by 1870.


The Early History of Chicle

When Conquistadors came to America in 1615, they were surprised to see the Aztecs making use of a curious object. The Aztecs were playing a game that very much resembles what is referred to today as open court handball. The success of their launching this ball made possibly from Balata Gum was just one of several social activities members of this indigenous group participated in by making use of plant gums or latex. The natives were also seen chewing on the latex of one or more of these plants, producing material which we refer to today as chewing gum. Samples of these products and the latex of the two trees (Manilkara sapota and M. balata) from which they came were brought back to Europe to share with members of the Royal Court.

Yet, in spite the curious nature of chicle use and its early discovery, this latex did little to change the European life style. Since the introduction of latex to European culture, the use of latex for has become common practice. Latex-derived products can be found in almost every household in both the industrial and third world countries. Latex is now a part of the manufacturing process for making hoses and tubing, insulation, elastic clothing, waterproof fabrics, insulating materials, plastic wares and various utensils.


The wood of Achras zapota is colorful, its dye is a nice red.  The fruit is sold in some marketplaces.

The food industry benefits from latex products not only in the production of cookware and serving equipment, these latexes also became a part of the nutriment as well. Sapodilla tree produces edible fruit and latex, and its various parts have been used to produce herbal remedies. One of the most basic uses of the Sapodilla is as a source for colorful timber. To woodworkers, Sapota wood resembles high quality Mahogany, by being dark purplish-red in color, finely grained, very hard and compact. The heartiness of this wood is proven by its discovery amongst the well-preserved remains of Mayan ruins. Sapodilla bark has been employed as a source for tannins (of which it contains around 12%). These tannins in turn are used to color animal hide, clothing, ship sails, and even fishing tackle. During the nineteenth century, the development of the chewing gum industry ultimately reduced the popularity of the timber and tannins industries’ use of Sapodilla, leading industrial countries to attempt to use its latex.


ChilclerosIndustry_OldGovtDocts ChiclerosIndustry_OldGovtDocts2.

Assorted figures from old (ca. 1900-1930) Chicle market government documents

This latex was first tried as a substitute or additive for manufacturing rubber from the true Rubber trees, but soon into these experiments, the chemistry of Chicle failed the tests for use in tire manufacturing. The believer in this use for Chicle was thus left with left-over chicle to deal with, which in turn was rolled and wrapped by hand into the United States first latex-derived chewing gum product. Chicle’s long lasting importance as a food source due to its Sapodilla fruit, suddenly became secondary to its use for manufacturing one of the world’s first latex-derived masticatory food products. This made Sapota the most economically important botanical resource in Mexico and other parts of Central and South America well into the next century.


Numerous sources exist for latex, most of which have been applied to the gutta percha and rubber industries. A number of these sources have also been used to make chewing gum including:


Sapotaceae (Chicle/Chewing Gum)

  • Manilkara (Achras) sapota
  • Manilkara bidentata (Balata/original Bubble Gum)
  • Mimusops balata
  • Mimusops clariensis
  • Bumelia spp.
  • Sideroxylon spp.


Agathis with Kaura gum or dammar; these gums are brittle and not really chewy or elastic


  • Picea spp., esp. P.  balsama (Blue Spruce)

Some personal notes:  Blue spruce gum is the classic.  You collect the purest, youngest, debris-free resin, make sure it smells like spruce (some are very kerosene-like).  It is important to fully “dry it” , letting all the smaller terpenes evaporate out so its brittle and fractures into many pieces when hit with a stone or something metal (if you want to go that far with testing it). I begin with hard, non-sticky resin, and chew on it–it takes a strong jaw and good teeth.  Not recommended for those with fragile teeth or fillings that may be brittle, etc.   The gum wad breaks instantly into a hundred to a thousand small pieces which then set up into the gummy consistency and behavior of real gum, like magic, instantly.  I found a piece from a blue spruce on Rt 9, Wappingers growing near its McFarlane Road intersection, in 1972, and kept it well into the late 1980s (I might still have it), and chewed it once or twice a year to show it off to friends visiting; it still had the spruce taste in it last time I tried around 1990.  It is ten times harder to chew than the “rubber gum” we buy today.


Araucaria angustifolium and allies.  These are very primitive conifers, with wood like leaves or pseudo-needles design to fight herbivores like the dinosaurs.  The first picture in the upper left corner is of Agathis resin, provided for comparison with the rest, which are Araucaria.  The polyterpenes in these  two genera are southern hemispheric; their chemical structure is identical in content, but are mirror images of the resins from the northern hemisphere (Pinaceae and others).  This left hand (southern)-right hand(northern) difference allows southern resins to dry and northern resins to remain sticky.   The makes southern resins “drying” (shellac-like) and good for art recipes or formulas, and the others more applicable to resin-oil-turpentine industries; their products need a stabilization/binding and drying agent to be added.


  • Agathis spp. (note: this is a southern evergreen that produces a drying polyterpene resin).
  • Araucaria (my addition, not in the historical journals)

Agathis and Araucaria gum also last a while.  But they are turpentinish, not a desirable flavor if raw or by themselves.  The Araucaria gum is fine and wants to powder, and will congeal in the mouth with chewing, but is slow to do so; as a result, a lot of it is dissolved and/or is probably swallowed.  The sub-diterpene (#carbons<20) molecules are more abundant in it and are probably what dissolves and evaporates thereby reducing the volume of the gum wad in the mouth.

Anacardiaceae (Mastics)

  • Pistacia lentisus
  • Schinus molle


Other latex producers:  Hevea brasiliensis (rubber tree), Morus rubra (red mulberry, theoretical latex source due to lacticifer histology, but very limited supplier), and two composites: sonchus and lactuca (lettuce).  Only the hevea is economically productive, but not for chewing gum.


  • Artocarpus cumingiana
  • Ficus spp.


  • Melicope ternata


  • Combretum spp.


Several Euphorbs or Spurges with latex displayed.  These plants contain biphenolics making them highly corrosive on biological tissue; therefore not useful as a masticatory.


  • Euphorbia spp. (esp. E. lorifolia)


  • Actinella biennis
  • Agoseris villosa
  • Chrysothamnus spp.
  • Echinops viscosus
  • Encelia farinosa
  • Lygodesmia juncea
  • Taraxacum spp. (in Russia this genus and other Compositae were tested for Latex products in general, but not Chewing gum per se.; likewise for short periods of early 20th C., ca. WW II era U.S. history.)


Milkweed and Dogweed, very poor latex producers in the long run; apocynaceae can be toxic due to cardioactive steroids


  • Apocynum cannabinum (dogweed)
  • Couma macrocarpa
  • Dyera costulata (Jelutong)
  • Stemmadenia galeottiana


  • Asclepias spp. (milkweed)
  • Asclepiodophora decumbens


Manilkara (Achras), Bumelia, Sideroxylon, Mimusops, and Manilkara (Achras) again.

The most important sources of latex used in the synthesis of chewing gum and bubble gum are Manilkara (Achras) sapota and Manilkara bidentata, respectively. Manilkara zapota (L.) P. Royen, or Achras sapota L., commonly known as Mexican Chickl, Sapodilla Tree, and Gum Zapotl, is found growing in Mexico, through most of Central America and parts of northern South America.

Its habitat extends northward to the Florida Keys and eastward to the Antilles, Jamaica, Cuba, Lesser Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and the Barbadoes. This evergreen tree produces the edible Sapodilla Plum. With the ongoing search for rubber-producing plants like Hevea (the Rubber Tree) came the discovery of Mexican Chicle from Manilkara sapota L.

The second major source for latex in Middle America is Manilkara bidentata (A.D.C.) Chev., a tree which is found growing in northern South America, especially in Brazil, as well as in Peru, Venezuela, Columbia, British Guiana, and Panama. This species is the suspected source for the chewing gum, the rubber ball, and the rubber-soled foot apparel used by the Aztecs when Spanish conquistadors first set foot in Central America. When dried, its latex becomes highly elastic in nature and like Sapota can be used to make bubble gum. When properly treated Balata Gum develops non-elastic rubber-like properties similar to those of Gutta Percha. Therefore it is seen in recipes for rubber (machine) belts, boot-soles, hoses, tires, balls, and many other materials that need to endure stress and friction. [Wright; Mabberley].

Other economically important species of Manilkara include:

  • M. chicle (Pittier)  Gilly Crown Gum
  • M. hexandra (Roxb.) Dubard Palu  (India)
  • M. obovata (Sabine & G. Donf.) J.H. Helmsley, African  Pear  (West Africa)

These products have at times been used as adulterants, substitutes and extenders for he traditional Manilkara sapota L. (Sapota) Gum.



Chicle gum is gathered by natives known as chicleros. Using only a rope, and a long knife or machete, the chiclero climbs the tree and makes incisions through the outer bark. These cuts are slanted and lead the chicle into a central drainage route where it then is made to drip down along a large folded leaf and into a pail, bag, or other suitable receptacle. Deep cuts are damaging to the tree and can result in infection and death.

An older method attempted early on for gathering chicle and especially its counterpart balata involved wasting trees by cutting them at ground level, and then gathering the latex as if flowed from the exposed trunks remaining. This practice was short-lived for obvious reasons: the trees which were harvested to collect these latex from were nearly annihilated in just a few years. [Edward H. Thompson; R. H. Millward; A.J. Lespinasse; H.M. Hoar].


To obtain the best Chicle, the latex is harvested for just one season, afterwhich, the tree is then given a few years to recover. Chicleros have occasionally harvested the same tree for several years in a row which only results in the destruction of the tree. Proper techniques can lead to the harvesting of 50-75 pounds of chicle (from many trees) per week; annually, 35 to 40 pounds can be harvested from a single mature tree. Each pound of chicle is capable of producing over 500 sticks of chewing gum. [Hoar]


Once the chicle latex is gathered from its receptacles alongside the trees, it is brought back to the campsite where it is then boiled for several hours. Properly cooked, the liquid chicle becomes rather viscous and develops elastic characteristics. It is tenacious, firm, mildly aromatic and tasteless, although sapotonin has been known to cause a bitterness. Inferior products are red, and occur either naturally or as a result of being overcooked during the initial processing stage. The gum is kneaded several times during this initial dehydration process. This is done to help remove any residual water remaining inside of it. This concentrated chicle gum is then molded and shaped by hand to form 20 to 50 pound bricks; these bricks are occasionally adulterated with stones, wood blocks and forest debris to increase the true volume of latex that was gathered. Chicle bricks are then delivered to a contractor by mule or hand-car, who must then decide which to buy and then pay for their delivery to their first site for portage (usually Lake Itza).


The chicle is placed on boats at its first arrival site and from there is transported to Belize, (then of the British Honduras). At Belize, it undergoes further preparation for exportation, and is again reviewed by company representatives as well as entrepreneurs, who are then responsible for attending to the cost for permits, tariffs, and arranging vessels to ship the gum to the United States. This multi-step harvesting and shipping process leads to major increases in the price for the raw and partially processed latex.

By the time it leaves for the factories in the United States, the cost of chicle gum may be five times more than that which was paid to the Chicleros for their intial harvest. Mexico, British Guiana, and Guatemala have served as major sources for the chicle gum used by industries in the United States. Other important sources for this chewing gum latex have included Honduras, Nicaragua, Salvador, Venezuela, and Columbia.



During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, concentrated latex underwent several days to weeks of shipment by ocean vessel to its first stopover in the United States. During this time it loses another three to five percent of its weight due to dehydration during shipping. At the turn of the century, nearly all of the chicle was shipped from the British Honduras to the east coast of the United States or Canada. Since the Panama Canal was not yet opened (its opening date was circa 1915), nor were adequate railways laid leading from Mexico to California, the major import routes for Chicle were by way entry into the major shipping ports in Galveston, New Orleans, New York, Boston, Chicago and Toronto. Most of this chicle was loaded onto boats at the ports in British Honduras and on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Therefore the country’s major chewing gum factories were established in and near these ports.

West Coast shipments were less frequent, but possible by way of mooring sites in or near Acapulco. This chicle was brought to Acapulco either by mule or handcar, where it then often had to be carried through the shallows and to the ships by hand and shoulder since no major docking sites had yet been established in this region. Then, from Acapulco the shipments went to San Francisco and to Seattle, and by the late 1800s, Portland, Oregon, became the site for one of the west coast’s major production facilities.

As an alternative to shipping to the west coast, limited railway routes were established which stretched across the southern United States from Galveston to San Francisco, and through the northern United States from Boston and New York, to Toronto, Chicago, and finally to parts of the Pacific northwest. The railways which stretched directly from Mexico to California at the turn of the century were not completed.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, due to tariff taxes that were passed which were based on the weight of the shipment, Chicle gum would first be shipped to Toronto, Canada, in order to undergo further dehydration. This process lightened the load of the imported chicle latex, thereby reducing the tariff that was paid on it once it reached the United States. On the west coast this same weight-reduction process may have been carried out in Vancouver, British Columbia, (no shipping records have been found). By 1915, this weight-reducing for chicle process no longer became necessary. Therefore, many of the excess shipments to Canada were ceased and attempt were made to increase the size of the manufacturing facilities located within the boundaries of United States.


According to the blueprints, the women’s “water closets” outnumbered the closets for men 4- or 5-fold, and all were on the first floor.  The first floor was for packaging and shipping, duties performed almost exclusively by women, and had its main office to the left when you walked in through the north entrance for the factory in Portland, Oregon.  The second and third floors were where gum was made from latex.  The heaviest machinery consisted of the mixers/blenders on the 3rd floor, where the latex was mixed into the final batch and then pressed into sheets and laid to settle and strengthen.  Workers on the second floor cut, formed, separated and then prepared the final products for packaging and final processing on the first floor.  A freight elevator next to the loading dock on the east face, south end, served to bring the latex blocks to the third floor.  Oregon Historical Society photos include a picture of someone bearing latex brought off a freight train that arrived.  Early factories however were on the water front and probably received their latex via ships.  (much of this came from discussions with the building owner and owner of Gann Printing.)



An Organic Chewing Gum Producing Indigenous Peoples’ Cottage Industry


General manufacturing and chemical preparatory processes are nearly identical from one latex product to the next. Blocks of dehydrated latex are treated by washing them with strong alkali, followed by a neutralization process. They are then dried and pulverized. The final product is an amorphous pale-pink powder that is insoluble in water. Upon heating, it forms a sticky mass and may be used to make chewing gum. Typical chewing gum recipes only contain about 15% chicle gum by weight; the remaining materials are sugar, water, balsams, wax, and resins. [The Wealth of India; Henley].

The exact recipes and methods for chewing gum synthesis are usually considered trade secrets, so few past recipes and none of the contemporary chewing gum recipes are known in exact detail. General manufacturing processes for chicle are very much like those for the Hevea Latex, which until recent decades was use extensively for the production of rubber tires.

The preparation of a chewing gum mass involves pulverizing, sifting, and then subjecting the powder to a gentle heat. Additives such as balsams, oils, resins, and waxes are added to control water-solubility, and alter melting point, tensility, ductility, and amalgamation reactions. The most helpful information about gum manufacturing is given in the early United States Patent Records. A brief synopsis of latex manufacture and preparation is given by William F. Semple in his proprietary claim: “the combination of rubber with other articles, in any proportions adapted to the formation of an acceptable chewing-gum.” (No. 98,304; Dec. 28, 1869).

Numerous recipes given in the Patent records are of ingredients added to serve as flavorants and to provide texture. Examples of these include paraffine (sic), “oleaginous softener”, spruce gum, coffee-sugar, grape-sugar, cocoa, and caffeine. Chicle additives or substitutes included flour, animal fat, neutral/deodorized asphalt, pontianak gum, ocotilla gum and gum mastic.


In Patent Number 824,116, filed March 3, 1906, Edward Heber described his own technique:

“(A) Process of Obtaining Gum from Vegetable Matter.”


1. A Process for obtaining caoutchouc, gutta-percha, or chicle from the gum-yielding members of the plant kingdom which consists in heating the disintegrated wood at ordinary of high pressure with soap solution.

2. Method for obtaining caoutchouc, gutta-percha, or chicle from the gum yielding members of the plant kingdom which consists in heating the disintegrated wood with soap solution to which has been added certain solvents for gums such as benzol, toluol, resin-oil, and the like.

3. A process of obtaining vegetable gum from vegetable matter which consists in heating disintegrated vegetable matter in a soap solution both being contained in a suitable retort.

4. The process of obtaining gum from vegetable matter, which consists in heating vegetable matter in a soap solution in a suitable retort until the gum contained in the vegetable matter is dissolved or emulsified and then separating the other constituents from the gum and precipitating the gum.

As mentioned earlier for the Balata Gum harvesting process, this method differed greatly from the more traditional gathering methods for latex, for Heber’s method required total destruction of the tree.

In 1931, Archie Pappadis of Norfolk, Virginia gave as his recipe in the Patent Records (Vol. 407, p. 87, No. 1,807,704):

“Recipe for a compound for chewing-gum

      • 6% beeswax
      • 4% sweet pure olive oil
      • 50% granulated mastic gum
      • 35% sugar syrup
      • 5% Lemon juice
      • trace Rose oil”.

The same year, Henley’s Twentieth Century Home and Workshop Formulas, Recipes and Processes by Gardner D. Hiscox gave several Chicle gum recipes which included Chicle, sugar and water as their major constituents, along with sweeteners and other flavorants such as Caramel, Glucose, Balsam Tolu, Balsam Peru, Spruce gum, and Benzoin. Paraffin and Wax were added to control solidity and texture.


Darling’s Inventions for forming the latex into an elastic gum (Patent Office Records)

The first detailed description of gum-manufacturing equipment was given by James D. Darling in 1907 of a mixing and rolling apparatus for latex.  In a later claim, Darling briefly described “a process of manufacturing chewing gum, which consists in subjecting crude Pontianak rubber to a purifying process, heating the purified mass until it melts; adding a small percentage of water to the melted mass, and allowing it to cool and set.” Heating of the gum recipes was generally carried out until 100 degrees Centigrade was reached, the boiling temperature for water. At this point the latex became more pliable upon cooling.



More than year later, a description for a roller was given by another inventor Albert M. Price, who then assigned it to William Wrigley, Jr. Company. The purpose of this roller was to press heated latex (with its sugars, oils, resins, etc.) into sheets, and then to make partial cuts through the sheets, preparing them for the separation of strips of gum. Finally, these strips were then separated by hand, coated with confectionery sugar, individually wrapped, and then packaged.




During the 19th century, attempts were made to find alternate resources that could be used for the production of rubber. When attempts to produce an adequate rubber substitute from chicle gum were unsuccessful, it was in turn used to manufacture chewing gum. A writer for the Oregon Journal back in 1935 wrote an interesting account of how one of the major producers of chewing gum, the American Chicle Company, was established. The writer explains how General Santa Anna fled from Mexico to New York where he was exiled following his political defeat in 1868. He then stayed with Secretary James Adams in a small house on Staten Island, New York. After the death of Mexico’s leader Juarez, Santa Anna was granted amnesty and returned to Mexico in 1874. The account given in the Oregon Journal states that upon his return to Mexico Santa Ana sent twenty pounds of Chicle to Secretary Adams, who then added flavor to it and sold it as a chewing gum near Central Park, Manhattan, New York. The writer concluded that due to this seemingly effortless success, the chewing gum industry was born.


Another version of this folktale states that when Santa Anna left to return to Mexico, he left some chicle gum with Secretary Adams, who then gave it to his father, Thomas Adams, Sr., who in turn tried unsuccessfully to produce a rubber substitute with it. Subsequent attempts were made by Adams to produce an effective dental adhesive; these were also unconvincing or ineffective. Purportedly, as if in frustration, the chicle gum was rolled out into flat sheets, and then cut and wrapped to be sold in the corner confectionery store as chewing gum.


Today it is been accepted by most historians that by 1866 Secretary Adams’s brother, Thomas Adams, Jr. (b. April 11, 1846; d. Aug. 4, 1926), and his father, Thomas, Sr., were the first entrepreneurs to successfully produce and market a chicle-based chewing gum. Since no ready market could be found for their new product, Thomas Adams supplied it to a local confectionery shop to be given away with each purchase. Later, after he added sugar and flavorants to the chewing gums, its demand greatly increased. Soon, the popularity of chicle-based chewing gum outsold its competitors’ Spruce Gum chewing gum, which in turn led higher demand and the opening of a small factory in Jersey City. By 1868, the company Adams and Son was born. With an initial layout of only $35.00, Adams and Son pioneered the manufacture and sales of a new chewing gum.



The Consolidation of the Chewing Gum Industries

By 1869, the Adams organized their business and Thomas Adams, Sr. became the company’s President. The continuing success of Adams and Son led to the development of larger factories in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1888. The success of this business venture continued, and by 1898, Thomas Adams, Sr., retired. Thomas Adams, Jr., then took control of the company as president until his own retirement in 1920.


In 1899, Adams and Sons began consolidating their company with those of their competitors.  Most of these companies had already achieved local fame, thus further support the Adams and Son company’s economic goal. Examples of companies that consolidated with Adams and Son included: Beeman’s Chemical Company, Cleveland, Ohio; W.J. White & Co., Cleveland, Ohio (manufacturer of “Yucatan”); S.T. Britten, Toronto, Canada (manufacturer of “Cloves” and “Black Jack”); Kisme Gum Company, Louisville, Kentucky (manufacturer of “Kis-me”); and J.P. Primley, Chicago, Illinois (manufacturer of “Primley”). Together, these consolidated companies formed the newly formed American Chicle Company. Their main factory was established in Newark, New Jersey, in 1903.



Ten years later, when a competitor, the Sen-Sen Chiclet Company, was organized in Maine, the American Chicle Company acquired controlling interest in Sen-Sen, which ultimately led to their buy-out as well in 1914. As these buy-ups continued, the Sterling Gum Company, Inc., Long Island City, New York was bought in 1916. Such economic success for the American Chicle Company continued for a few more years, until its encounter with the Federal Government and American Medical Association due to a practice performed in the Portland, Oregon, facility launched an investigation and ultimately to a lawsuit , which resulted in the closure of a fairly young Portland-based factory.



The popularity of chewing gum outside of the United States was wanting until World War I when European soldiers were exposed to the chewing gum habit of their American comrades out on the battlefields. In the years to come holdings were established for the Adams Chewing Gum Co., Ltd. in London, the Canadian Chewing Gum Company in Canada, the American Chicle Company in Mexico, and the Chiclet Development Companies in Guatemala, Mexico, and British Honduras. Together, these gave the American Chicle Company control of its marketplace and 50 million acres of chicle-producing lands; enough to meet the rising demands of chewing gum that was occurring worldwide. In 1920, Thomas Adams, Jr. saw the beginning of construction work for a new manufacturing plant in Long Island City, N.Y.. This work was completed just before he retired in 1922.


Another important businessman associated with the American Chicle Company is Stephen Toghill Britten. The economic expansion and success of the chewing gum industry during the 1800s is attributed to Britten’s skills as an entrepreneur and businessman. Born in Birmingham, England, on January 9, 1862, Britten moved to the United States in 1884 where he learned the skills of electric plating. He was afterwards employed by the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Company in Chicago, and later came to serve as a bookkeeper for the separate Nelson Morris and Company.


In January 1888 Stephen Britten became a traveling salesman for C.T. Heisel in Cleveland, Ohio. Heisel was the manufacturer of Goody-Goody chewing gum. Britten recommended to Heisel that he establish a factory in Toronto, Canada. In 1891, Heisel followed through with Britten’s recommendation and made him the manager. Four years later, the same factory was purchased by Britten, who then added manufacturing facilities for licorice and the production of popcorn novelties. Britten then sold an interest in this factory to John A. Phin, and so in 1897, the S.T. Britten & Company was established.

In 1899, S.T. Britten & Company merged with Adams and Son during the early months of forming the American Chicle Company. S.T. Britten’s success made him a Vice President to this firm. Another entrepreneur, William White, Jr., of W. White Company, Cleveland, Ohio, (producer of “Yucatan” gum) became the company’s president.


North face of the building, which is also a historical site



The introduction of the American Chicle Company to Portland, Oregon, may be attributed to Stephen Toghill Britten. Britten’s role in the early 1900s was to oversee the development of factories for the American Chicle Company in San Francisco (2 factories), Chicago, New Orleans, Louisville, Newark, N.J., Kansas City, Missouri, and Portland, Oregon. He would usually remain with the company he helped to establish, serving as manager for two or three years. Once the company branch became financially well established, Britten would then leave to start up another manufacturing facility.



Prior to the establishment of the American Chicle Company in Portland in 1909, companies found listed in the Gazetteer as chewing gum manufacturers included: the Columbia Star Manufacturing Company, 361 E. Washington (1898, 1899, and 1900-1901); the Newton Gum Company, 11 First (Avenue), (1901-1904); and the Consolidated Chicle Company of Seattle, Washington (1907-1908). Interestingly, the Columbia Star Manufacturing Company is seen advertised in the Gazetteer as “Mnfrs of Blue Mountain and Sunshine Scouring Soap”; for which it appears only in the index as a source for chewing gum.



A substantial amount of information about the Newton Gum factory is found in the San Francisco historical documents, where this company dominated the west coast chicle market.  [See eBook at this site.]

Britten first appeared in the Oregon and Washington Gazetteer for the years 1909-1912, when he was listed as Manager for “American Chile (sic) Co., 31 Front N.”. From 1907 to 1914 Britten was again listed as manager in the Portland Directory:

“American Chicle Co.

Stephen T. Britten, Mngr.

Mnfrs of Chewing Gum

14th sw Cor. Johnson

Tel Main 5568 A 4667″.

The American Chicle Company is not found in the Portland business directory for 1915, and in the 1916 directory, only an advertisement for the San Francisco branch can be found, afterwhich, no other entries by the American Chicle Company are found in published Gazetteers or Directories for Portland.

Deeds show that between 1904 and 1919, the American Chicle Company was the owner of this building. They purchased their piece of land from a couple who lived in Walla Walla County. At that time, this piece of land, measuring only one third of a block, was assessed for $8600.00. Yet, the American Chicle Company only paid $10.00!. With the establishment of their manufacturing facility one year later came the new appraisal for an additional $10,500.00.

By 1921, Britten was in charge of all manufacturing operations for the American Chicle Company. In 1922 he was elected Vice-President of Manufacturing; and in 1923 he became the Director. He was finally appointed Senior Vice President in 1927, a role which he held until his death in Burlingame, California, on February 27, 1934.


These three illustrations coincidentally depict the three activities probable for each of the floors of the American Chicle Company building, from the top floor down.




The American Chicle Company first established itself in a bustling part of Downtown Portland in an old factory building located between Burnside and Couch Streets, and on Front Avenues. Initial shipments of chicle came in via the International docks located next door along the Willamette River.


From 1898 to 1901 the earlier developed Columbia Star Manufacturing Company, 361 East Washington, located on the east side of the Willamette River, probably received its shipments from a terminal located between East J (Oak) and Washington Streets on what was then East Water Street. The use of plank roads supported by piles was the only way traveling could be made along these rough and often slick roadways. The uphill course from East Water Street along the river’s edge to the Columbia Manufacturing Company at the corner of East Third and Washington Street may have also taken advantage of the assistance offered by motor lines. These lines were owned by the Portland and Vancouver Railroad Company. The nearest one went along East Water Street and J (Oak) Street to Third Avenue where it then turned towards Burnside.

Later, the Newton Gum Company and the American Chicle Company received their shipments from the west side of the Willamette River. The office for the Newton Gum Company was located on First Avenue between Ankeny and Ash, in what is today known as the New Market Theater building. It had a backroom that served as a storage facility, presumably for the already packaged chewing gum product for which Newton Gum Company served as a distributor.

The Front Street address given for the American Chicle Company in 1909 (31 Front North) is for an office, factory and warehouse located directly across from the California and Oregon Coast Steamship Company; indicated on the map as “Ware Ho. 8 Dock 1st (floor)”.. The second floor served “Crane Company’s Pipe Ware House”.


Entrance may have been the door that appears slightly foggy.  That building underwent extensive upgrades, and would have appeared like the goldenrod colored building on the right. 

Immediately across from this warehouse on Front Avenue were the Electric Coffee Company, a Macaroni Factory drying warehouse, the Pacific Coast Syrup Refinery, and a blueing room for textiles and fabrics. Within a one block radius were a Pork Packaging Facility, a Wholesale Groceries facility, a soda water facility, La Grande Creamery and Ice Factory, and a cold storage facility. From this we can conclude that chicle gum was brought in by ship to the major produce district situated in the heart of downtown Portland. There it would be picked up by the American Chicle Company and brought to the appropriate location for preparation, storage and/or delivery to nearby confectionery shops.

Beginning around 1910, the second site of entry for chicle gum could have been the 15th Street Terminal Municipal Dock in the Northwest district. Although the company’s office address is listed in the Gazetteer for 1911-1912 as being on Front Avenue, later addresses do not make mention of Warehouse Number 8.


Records of the Register of Historical Buildings indicate that there was an ‘American Chicle Company Factory’ at the corner of 14th Avenue and Johnson Street, also known as the Breneman or Gann Building.  The American Chicle Company factory was established around 1909. Beneath the correction tape, a 1908 File Insurance map (corrected to 1924) shows that prior to this,  the Breneman-Sommers Company occupied this facility.  The map states “Wirkelmn’s Bag and Burlap Company”; the business directories refer to its owner as “Wirkleman’s”.  Breneman-Sommers Company first appears at this address in 1935.

Once the construction of the American Chicle Company building was completed, the uphill trek from Front Street of their precious cargo persuaded the company to depend upon the local rails connecting them with the 15th Street Terminal Municipal Dock. An ideal route for the transfer of chicle gum from the docks to the factory would be along N.W. 14th to an entranceway located on the Southeast corner of the building.  Rails for this route cannot be found, and rails found along the 14th and 16th Avenues were used primarily for Commuter/Passenger Trains. The rails on N.W. 13th and 15th Avenues played a bigger role for deliveries made into that part of Portland’s industrial district. The 13th Avenue rail led to a main loading and unloading dock for several neighboring companies located between Irving and Johnson Avenues.


Office of American Chicle Co. was to the left as you entered.

One of these is Crane Company, a neighbor of the American Chicle Company when it occupied Warehouse No. 8 in the downtown district. This suggests that these two companies may have had a well-developed business relationship by the turn of the century. Enough to persuade them to move into the industrial district together as neighbors, occupying separate buildings of similar architecture. Although either 13th or 15th Avenue may have been used for the delivery of chicle gum products; the proximity of Crane Company to the southeast corner of the American Chicle Company building (where its main office was also located according to the business directories) suggests that shipments of chicle gum may have been transported by rail to the Crane building and then brought over to the main landing of the American Chicle Company building by carriage or handcart. Alternatively, the 15th street railways may have been used although the same kind of convincing argument cannot be made for this; according to the 1908 map no other buildings existed between the American Chicle Company and 15th Avenue in 1924.

Following both the 13th Avenue and 15th Avenue rails back to the river’s edge leads to what used to be the 15th Street Terminal Municipal Dock Number 1, the American Can Company dock, the Spokane, Pacific, and Seattle Railway Dock, and the Eastern and Western Lumber Company dock. According to a 1919 Industrial Map, the American Can Company and Western Lumber Company docks are private; the Eastern and Western Lumber Company dock is also presumed private. The Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Dock was primarily used to handle “grain and general cargo”.


Loading platform for trucks in Americam Chicle Co. building, SE corner

Remaining in the list of principle docks designated “for Over-Seas and Coastwise Shipping” is the most likely dock used by the American Chicle Company–the 15th Street Terminal Municipal Dock. The Spokane, Portland and Seattle Dock is also easy to reach from the Breneman Building and may have been used for shipments of the already manufactured gum products including “Beeman’s Pepsin” and “Adam’s Tutti-Frutti” to cities in the northwest. The American Chicle Company was just beginning to establish itself in Portland at a time when chewing gum had become a popular confectionery and patent medicine. And along with the Patent Medicine Era came the onslaught of legal cases against claims made about chewing gum products.




Legal proceedings by the U.S. District Court against the American Chicle Company began in 1912 when it was charged that mislabelling had occurred. On May 10, the Oregonian gave this account:


“American Chicle Co. convicted of violation of pure food act.

“Gum Firm Convicted

Makers of Beeman’s Pepsin

Guilty of Misbranding

“American Chicle Company

Indicted for Mislabeling

of Tutti-Frutti Product”


The article describes charges made by the United States government against American Chicle Company that “the company had shipped from Oregon to Washington some Beeman’s Pepsin Chewing Gum and that its label contained the statement that by chewing the gum the pepsin in it was dissolved and was an aid to digestion.”


To prove their claims, chemists were hired by the government to test the gum products. The chemists’ report was that they “found no active principles of pepsin in it.” The American Chicle Company was then brought to court due to charges of misbranding. Testimony by chemists to the jury “showed that pepsin is an active organism, somewhat like yeast, and that in cooking the gum this life or quality was destroyed.” As a result of the conviction, a $250 fine was imposed on the manufacturers of “Beeman’s gum” and “Tutti-Frutti”, and the Supreme Court detailed new labeling requirements to be carried out by the American Chicle Company should the decision be upheld following an appeal. These labelling requirements included an announcement that “they (the products) are a simple chewing gum, without any possible medicinal benefits.” An appeal of this case was made by the American Chicle Company. Soon after, the American Chicle Company removed itself from Portland, late in 1914.

Whereas the City Directory for 1914 lists the American Chicle Company as still extant in Portland, it is absent from the 1915 City Directory, and in 1916, the San Francisco address was given with Frank N. Cassell in charge, after which, no mention of the American Chicle Company was made in the city directories for Portland.

The American Chicle Company maintained ownership of their building until 1919. But by then, the value of their building had dropped over $2,000.00. With job reductions subsequent to legal problems as the probable cause, this building was then relinquished to Max Blumenfeld (sp?).



William Wrigley appears in the above portrait and is probably the man standing in the advertisement sketch.  His brother Phillip started the first women’s softball league in 1866, with Vassar women.


The second person to reign in the Chewing Gum industry was William Wrigley.  I mention Wrigley in passing here because he really had little to do with Portland, Oregon, the focus of this review of an historical site, the American Chicle Company building in the Northwest District.  Nevertheless, a fair history of chewing gum does demand I mention Wrigley.  So here it is.

Due to his marketing skills, Wrigley became highly successful and by 1892, his company became well established financially. William Wrigley, Jr., concentrated on premiums. His chewing gum products were initially given away with each purchase of his soap or baking powder product. Soon he learned that the popularity of the chewing gum was making it marketable by itself. What Wrigley had discovered is that the chewing craze, already experienced by different civilizations around the world, was not to be left out of American history. As more flavorable chewing gums were produced and became popular, Wrigley offered premiums to store merchants for the selling of his gums such as coffee grinders, scales, cutlery, fishing tackle, and guns. His advertising routines, accompanied by the increased attention paid to foods and proprietary medicines by consumers, led to his economic success. By the turn of the century he had established one of the most successful businesses in the country.

Wrigley made several important contributions worth mentioning.  His first and foremost contribution is providing the soldiers at war with a chewing gum provision, which actually played quite an important role since it helped to maintain the alertness of men in the battlefield and drew their attention away from the miserable conditions some of the trenches had.  It also helped to tame the apetite somewhat, and perhaps offered a temporary “sugar high.”

Wrigley’s other important contribution still bears his name–Wrigley’s Field in Chicago.


Chicle Gum was perhaps preceded by Spruce Gum, but that’s another story


What’s in a product name?  For kids plenty!  For adults even more!!

Throughout the late 1800s, herbal remedies and other patent medicines were becoming increasingly popular. By the 1890s, claims were being made about many different types of products. Confectionery items were not to be excluded from this. The numerous claims made about chewing gum only increased in number by the turn of the century. Such claims centered on their use as digestive aids, headache cures, and a means to combat hunger and thirst. Later, when these claims were argued by the U.S. Government, numerous disputes and legal cases erupted concerning fraud and quackery.

During the first two decades of the 20th century, newspapers were filled with food and patent medicine advertisements. The promise of “truth in advertising” was not the rule. The popularity of chewing gum was on the rise and the improvements and changes made in advertising routines were primarily responsible for this. Together, the development of advertising by patent medicine proprietors, the improvement of color printing and dissemination of information helped companies spread the news about their products.

Whereas initial product lines lacked color and zest in their brand names and advertising, gum companies soon learned who their consumers were and how to attract their attention. Initial product lines were given generic names such as “Trick”, “Photo”, “Malt”, “Picture”, and “Motto”. The marketers then decided to try to attract tobacco-chewers to their products. At that time, chewing tobacco was considered the most popular pastime by nearly for grown men. (Since it was taboo for women and children to divulge in tobacco, the same was said for chewing gum.) Chewing tobacco substitutes such as “Gumbacco” (made in 1897 from chewing gum mixed with tobacco) were unsuccessful. The use of chewing gum was not accepted as a manly practice to carry out in card-rooms, bar-rooms, bordellos, and the like. Brandnames such as “Yucatan” and “Columbia”, suggestive of the United States’ reign in the import and export industries for chicle gum, were also just as unsuccessful.


The first successful attempts to sell chewing gum focused on children. One of these is “Corker” (Trademark entered–1897), a brand name that children could associate with a comical character. Other children-oriented brand names included “Yellow Kid”, “Fad”, “Dad”, “Funny Capers”, “Samson”, and “Kis-me”. By 1904, target populations were well established and the choices made for brand names fit. “Dodo” became a very popular brandname for children; its trademark illustrated “a caricature (clown) showing a front view of the head and shoulders of a man with a jolly expression on his face and having a small stiff paper crown on his head.” Adolescents were attracted to “Kis-Me”, in which the logo illustrated two very young children sitting close together, teasing each other. Women were attracted to “Peaches and Cream”, “Red Rose”, “Seydel Indian Peach” (with a trademark showing a young Indian squaw whose skin was as soft as a peach), and “Euchre Clubs Trumps” (named after a popular card game). Still, few new attempts were made to attract men to the chewing gum craze in the early 1900s.


The first brands men did pay attention to were the patent medicine chewing gums around 1906. Patent records in the Official Gazette show that as early as 1887 medical claims were being made for chewing gum when H.D. Smith and Company produced “Cough Chewing Gum”. In 1893 Sulta and Wellington produced “Headache”. The acceleration of the Patent Medicine Era in 1904 brought about “Gardner’s Pepsin Chewing Gum”, “Dr. Winter’s Antiseptic Pepsin Gum”, “Beeman’s Pepsin Chewing Gum”, “Adam’s Pepsin Tutti-Frutti”, “Dentyne”, and “Digesto”. By 1907 many medical claims were attached to chewing gums such as “Dr. Wemm’s Eucalyptus Cure”, “Gum-Lax”, “Common-Sense Cathartic Gum”, “Listerated Pepsin Gum”, “Common Sense Cough Gum”, and “Muscle Culture Gum”.

Also around 1907, since men finally approved of this increasingly popular confection, there was a rebirth in the chewing tobacco-chewing gum recipes. The Ellis-Foster Company of White Plains, New York, patented several “Masticable Tobacco Combinations” made up of Chewing Tobacco, chicle, and “a masticable waterproof Waxy preparation”. A year later, Ellis filed several other patents alone, for preparations he referred to as “Masticable Tobacco Substitutes”. The “Eight Hour Chewing Gum”, designed a label to attract the working men and women. Finally, Balloon or Bubble Gums became very popular. The first ones noted in the Patent records are “Bubble Balloon Pepsin Gum” and “Sa-So Pepsin Bubble Balloon Gum” in 1909.

The acceptability of chewing gum by nearly all social classes in American in 1910 led to its use during the first World War in 1914. Before World War I, gum chewing was primarily an American habit, and considered by the Europeans to be bad practice. As the years passed in the battlefields, they witnessed the use of chewing gum by American soldiers between the battles and during confrontations to relieve tension, aid digestion, and mitigate thirst. By the end of World War I, Europeans were captured by this curious and unusual habit and the popularity of chewing gum in Europe was on the rise. In the years to follow, Great Britain and France would become the primary consumers outside of the U.S. of chewing gum and American chewing gum industries flocked to Europe to meet these demands.

In the decades to come medicinal chewing gums became widespread despite the set-backs of the Patent Medicine Era. As other claims for chewing gum were made, its popularity continued to grow. Caffeine gum is one example. Stuart W. Cramer described it in his patent record (1919):

“A chewing gum having incorporated therein caffein (sic) in such an amount that pieces of said gum suitable for chewing will each contain an amount of caffein sufficient to produce approximately the bracing effect equal to that obtained from a cup of coffee.”

The use of gum as a substitute for smoking also became popular, as well as gums that served as laxatives and other common medicines. Even more important, dental applications such as the prevention of cavities and plaque formation were developed during the 1920s.


In the 1930s, chewing gum industries gave rise to gums containing the anti-bacterial agents–sulfonamides–along with claims regarding improvements in their anti-cariogenic and anti-plaque effects. Oral disinfectants became popular as well as charcoal and Chlorine. The 1940s gave us an “Oxygen liberating” gum, and one of the first artificial sweeteners to be tested–alkoxyaminonitrobenzene. Gum recipes during the 1950s included Aspirin, Amphetamines, and ingredients to prevent motion sickness. The treatment and prevention of cavities was not forgotten. The newest bacteriocide–Penicillin was added along with Fluorine. An emphasis on cavity-prevention would continue into the 1960s; unusual dental additives would emerge including whiteners, plaque/tartar removers, tooth polishers, acidic dentrifices, a cavity-preventing aldehyde, and the anti-cariogenic enzyme dextranase.

Chewing gum additives during the 1970s concentrated almost solely on preventing tartar build-up and cavities, and breaking the smoking habit. New oral disinfectants with cavity-reducing sugar substitutes were added; satisfying the habitual gum-chewer as well as the calorie-sensitive consumer and diabetic. Improved flavorants and breath fresheners also became very popular. One recipe rich in vitamins, minerals and Potassium was developed and targeted for the athlete.


The uses of chewing gum in modern medicine range from products every now and then that serve as stimulants, such as a caffeine rich product for night driving.  Nicotine containing gums are marketed every now and then to smokers who want to quit.  Certain medicine can be administered using latex.  The dental industry tried marketing antibacterial-anti-cavity products, without much success or support by the national associations or the FDA.  In recent years it has undergone testing for Meniere’s disease, an affliction of the middle ear that at times is remedied by facilitating motor movement of the passages.

Since the establishment of the chewing gum industry in the late 1800s, aromaticity and flavor could not be given due attention. Early attempts were made to deodorize the strong terpenic resins (primarily ketones) contained in the latex. These attempts remained unsuccessful until the 1970s when we developed an understanding of the chemistry of gum.


The further addition of flavorants could now be fully appreciated by the chewing gum connoisseur. Flavorants such as citric acid, mercaptobenzoate esters, and alkylhydrofuranones were tested during the 1970s. Coolants (additives that produce a cooling sensation in the mouth) like the ethylmenthol, menthyl-ketoesters and amides were used. Artificial sweeteners such as SaccharineTM, the methylpentenoates, methoxycinnamaldehyde, and Aspartame (aspartylphenylalanine–NutrasweetTM) were investigated. More importantly, a number of natural sweeteners were explored as possible additives including the sugar alcohols (i.e. sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol), Miraculin (Synsepalum dulcificum), Monellin (Dioscoreophyllum sp.), Thaumatin (Thaumatococcus sp.), Neohesperidin (Citrus spp.), Glycyrrhizin (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and Stevioside (Stevia rebaudiana), to name a few. This differed greatly from the traditional recipes practiced only thirty years earlier that used honey, sugar and corn syrup as their sweeteners, and plant extracts such as resins, oleoresins, balsams, essential oils, and even nutmeg oil and goldenrod extract as their flavorings.
Other improvements during the twentieth century included the development of anti-oxidants during the ’20s, ’30s’ and 40’s to retard the deterioration of the gum base, and new deodorizers, plasticizers, and preservatives in the 1970s. Recent developments center on safe substitutes for the latex-derived natural products, the improvement of flavor and mouthfeel, and the enhancement of quality of life and health-related issues.


Results of Our Obsession with Gum


The early 1940s also marks the beginning of a period when chewing gum was changed from consisting primarily of natural latex, namely as chicle and balata gums, to relying upon artificial gum bases as additives or substitutes. The earliest chewing gums were made of beeswax, and/or strongly aromatic gums such as spruce and mastic. They later relied upon the unusual including natural asphalt, and the dried latex of stinging, bitter Euphorbs. Next, chicle latex became very popular, followed by latexes (the official plural is latices) from Couma and Hevea (the Para Rubber tree).


Chewing Gum “Art”

The first artificial gums or gum additives are the cellulose ethers, products of the lumber industry, described in 1939. The second and most successful gum-base substitutes are the vinyl polymers in 1940. Descriptions of others would follow including the aryl sulfenamides, isopropylamines, phenol aldehydes, and pyridazine sulfides. Research during the 1950s would introduce the ester-isobutene polymers (abietylester-isobutenes), the polyacetyl polysulfides, the acrylates, and the diacetyl triglycerides waxes. Still by far the most popular alternatives were the vinyl acetate polymers which can still be found in current gum recipes. The seventies would only add several other polymers: hydroxypropylstarch acetate, the methyl acrylates and butadiene-styrene copolymers. Polyvinyl acetates would continue to be emphasized as the choice latex additive or substitute. Recent trends have been to cash in on the popularity of the natural gums and resins although these natural product resources remain scarce and fail to totally meet consumers’ demands.




Whereas Manilkara zapota was once harvested for its lumber and fruit, today its most important natural product is its latex. In 1866 the value of latex as a chewing gum became apparent to entrepreneurs originally in search of substitutes for the valuable latex produced by Hevea, the Rubber tree. The subsequent growth of the chewing gum industry in the United States went through several stages before this confectionery was accepted. Adams and Company was the first to market chewing gum, fifteen years before William Wrigley, Jr..

Initial attempts at marketing chewing gum centered on its attractiveness as an oddity. In 1866, Adams and Company was unsuccessful at making sales in Central Park, New York City; so he brought the chewing gum to confectionery shops to be given out for free with the purchase of other confectioneries. Similarly, during the 1890s, the William Wrigley Company began by giving out gum as a premium for the purchase of its soap products and its baking powder. Success came when flavorants and sweeteners were added to the chewing gum recipe. The addition of sugar, corn syrup, licorice, peppermint, cherry, wintergreen, and assorted balsams increased the popularity of chewing gum as well as improved the sales of the other products. Soon, companies learned to concentrate on selling the chewing gums. Adams and Company marketed their Cloves and Licorice flavored chewing gums. Wrigley stopped selling his soaps and baking powder in order to concentrate on his popular chewing gums; the earliest of which included “Vassar”, “Pepsin” and “Sweet-Sixteen”.


Chewing Gum and Tobacco Consumers

By the late 19th century, Adams and Company began to consolidate with numerous companies situated around North America. They commanded the marketplace with their multitude of products. Originally marketed by smaller industries across the country, many of them had taken on local acclaim and were named after their developers or companies. Examples include “Beeman’s Pepsin Chewing Gum”, “California Fruit”, “Chiclets”, “Colgan’s Taffy-Tolu”, “Fleer Deer Dubble Bubble”, “Gardner’s Pepsin Chewing Gum”, “Goetz’s Yerba-Santa”, “Kisme” Gum , “Primley” gum, “White’s Yucatan” and “Whittam’s Champagne Bouquet Gum”.

The ability of Adams & Son, Inc. to take control of the chewing gum industry early on led to their success and rapid economic growth during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wrigley’s understanding of advertising, along with his ability to combine the skills of marketing and advertising, led to the long-standing financial success of his company. With the development of technology came the expansion of their manufacturing facilities. They are now the two leading competitors in the chewing gum marketplace: Warner-Lambert Company (consolidator of Adams and Company/American Chicle Company), and the William Wrigley Chewing Gum Company.



Chicle and the Post-Modern World (not in original essay)

After completing the bulk of this research around 1990/1, finalizing the local (Portland, Oregon) history of this industry in 1992/3, I set this project aside.  It is now 2013, almost twenty years since I engaged in this research as a new professor/adjunct/researcher at PSU.

The Tropical Rainforest programs were just beginning then. So during the time I was researching this industry, there were plans for new programs to begin.  For the time, however, there was just one major program in operation that was trying to restore this traditional harvesting practice.  According to an associate of mine working as an artisan at the Portland Saturday Market, who himself was descended from this part of Mexico and who frequently traveled home to visit his family several times per years, the best way to get chicle latex was to travel to Yucatan and purchase it at the farmer’s market.


In the industrialized, modern to post-modern world, the chemical industries had pretty much taken over the production of the chemicals needed for chewing gum.  So for the time it seemed like at most a cottage industry for the this natural product would be all that most of us expected to see develop.  Then the indigenous marketplaces took control of this market and some of that indigenous knowledge resulting in several successful markets.


Bioengineering of plants also made for some improvements in this industry with the develop of plant tissue culturing, the establishment of native or traditional seed banks, and the re-establishment of a traditional trade industry for chicle and chicleros.  (Once I find the notes, I recall finding documents about a Mexican scientist who was heavily engaged in research on bioengineering chicle latex, ca. 2000.)

Post-modernism rarely seems to fail for this kind of industry in general, although its outcomes have yet to reach that global status we all have hoped for with regard to indigenous rights and intellectual property.

Chewing gum still represents a unique piece of United States culture.  In historical terms, it has a interesting history regarding the local folklore.  The introduction of international commerce and natural resources marketing (early to mid-industrial period) all played a heavy role in this country’s development, and World War II survival some might say.  Likewise, the development of the chemical industry era in general, with its take over by the petroleum products industry, has had impacts on this really symbolic industry for the Americas.

The post-modernism of chewing gum is matched by its high technology bioengineered plant product potentials that currently exist.  Anyone with enough imagination, and caffeinated chewing gum, and sufficient mental powers, could produce a fairly unique set of marketable products and advertisements with chewing gum, i.e. . . .




Bioengineered Chewing Gum made from original Mayan and Aztec Chiclé Plant Cell Cultures


is now for Sale at Lower Prices than similar products.


Most gum is made from crude underground fuel oil!  


Why chew on these products when you can get the real thing ? ? ?

Chew chicle the way indigenous cultures experienced it centuries ago,

as their own unique discovery!

©® Indigenous IP, Inc.

P.S. More of my tongue in cheek humor above.

Culturally speaking, I guess this would be disadvantageous to American capitalists, as well as the Middle Eastern oil industry and their investors.  But such a potential is a nice way to end this history of chewing gum story.  And notice how neither an ode to Christopher Columbus nor a detailed reminder of Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro’s was mentioned here; both of them passed up such an opportunity to become the first and best known gum chewers, or to start such a novel industry that would still be alive so many centuries later.





Thompson. p. 282.


Lespinasse. 1904. p. 241.

The Weath of India. Uphof. p. 88.

Mabberley. ibid. ibid.


Patent No. 907,748. Patent No. 1,005,001; Jan 30, 1909; accepted 1911.

Patent 947,635. Filed July 2, 1908. Patent Number 992,590. Filed April 27, 1910.

Oregon Journal. November 1, 1935. p. 12, col. 2. Until then, the chewing gum industry employed Mastic, Spruce and Cherry
Gums for making this confectionery.

The National Cyclopaedia
of American Biography ibid.

Oregon and Washington Gazetteer. 1909-1910, 1911-1912.

Portland Directory. 1907-1908; 1909; 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Insurance Map. East Portland and Albina, corrected
to 1910. Bound by J.M. Schmidt, N.Y. Insurance Maps, Portland, Or., Vol. 1. Sanborn-Ferris Map Company (1901),
Corrected to April 1908.


1410 NW Johnson Street. Historic Resource Inventory: Portland, Or.. V. 11, pt. 2.
Identified Properties: Downtown. 2-456-01410. Map of Congested District, Portland, ORE., Vol. 1 1908. Corrected to 1924. Industrial Map. Portland, Or. The Commission of Public Docks, Portland, Or., 1919.

Oregonian. 10 May 1912. p. 18.

See United States Patent Records for various synopses of latex manufacture and preparation.


More Notes


Autobiographical Note:

There’s this humorous story about this work that has to be told.  

The first time I entered the local Oregon Historical Society library to research this company, I was asked to fill out a form and a card.  This card included the usual–name, address, phone number etc.  It also asked you what “Topic” it was that you came in to review.  With 4 or 5 lines there for you to fill in, I entered “Chewing Gum”.  

For the first year or two, the library staff thought I was kidding, or that I was a bit paranoid, thinking I wrote this down to conceal my special research topic and/or otherwise not disclose what or whom I was “investigating”  

One day, when I went up the historical documents librarian to request an interlibrary loan, she noticed that the item I requested pertained to chewing gum industry, and then told me about her and the other staffmember’s reactions to what I had written on the membership card earlier.  

Once the Chewing Gum research was near its end, and my other major project for the time completed and an article published, I went on to research Native American and Oregon trail medicine at this great facility.  

I owe some thanks to the OHS staff, perhaps, for their sense of humor throughout all of this “unique” research project.  

I still get funny looks from people when I speak about the possibility of one day seeing the development of a plant genetics bioengineering industry focused on the production of the chewing gum latex chicle.

Still waiting . . . 









Me, during the first year of the Rose Festival on Waterfront Park, when I was deep into this research project