First Chewing Gum - Natural Chewing Gums
First chewing gum was natural, consist gummy substance named Mastiche derived from the resin of the mastic tree.
Mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) also known as mastic (or mastix) is small tree growing up to 4m tall, cultivated mainly in the Greek. The flavor of this tree can be described as a strong, slightly smoky, aromatic odour and can be an acquired taste. When chewed agglomerate into a plastic mass. At least 2,400 years,mastic has been used, principally, as a chewing gum.
The word “mastic” in Greek means “to chew”. The Greek island of Chios is the only place in the world where this tree grows. Tears of a shrub, “shed tears” of the mastic tree dry and harden producing the sweet-smelling gum mastic resin.
For centuries the ancient Greeks chewed mastic gum. Grecian women especially used chewing mastic gum to clean their teeth and sweeten their breath.
The ancient Greeks were the first who used this plant as chewing gums, but Mastic is known to have been popular in Roman times too. In Medieval times it used as a breath freshener and for cosmetics. Masticha has been widely used for stomach comfort and for other therapeutic purposes. It was considered to have healing properties, and it was real privilege to chew mastic. Sultans claimed to chew mastic. Mastic tree was well known to almost all Mediterranean and Arabic countries.
Because has a special taste and resulting to a fresh and clean feeling, mastic gum is very popular and today. Chios natural mastic gum is a regional protected name by the European Union.
Today many chewing gum have taste of mastic tree, it represent one of the original chewing gum taste.
In the 9th century, the Mayan civilization discovers some natural chewing gum too.
In the 2nd century, central American Indians were chewing the coagulated sap of the Sapodilla tree. The Sapodilla trees grow wild in the rain forest. “Chicleros” are people whose taps Sapodilla trees and collects the sap from them. Chewing gum is made from a thick juice called “chicle”. This white juice was collected in small bags and at the factory this chicle was cooked with corn syrup, glycerin, sugar and some flavoring. After that, cooked chicle dried, rolled and cut into small pieces. This is originally way how chicle chewing gum was made.
Today some chewing gum is made of chicle, but most of them are made from chemicals and synthetic gum bases. The reason for this is mainly the higher cost and lower quality of gums produced with chicle. In Japan, chicle is still the preferred base of chewing gums.
American Indians of New England were also chewing gum. That chewing gum was made from the resin of spruce trees. Spruce gum was sold, and than being replaced progressively by paraffin wax gum.
Sweetened and flavored paraffin wax today is also used in the production of some chewing gum.