John B. Curtis

John B Curtis

John Bacon Curtis (October 10, 1827 - June 13, 1897) was an American businessman and inventor. He was the first commercial gum producer.

Curtis came up with the idea of how to use spruce gum and sell it as a chewing gum.

In the mid-1800s, John B. Curtis and his father experimented with the first manufacture of chewing gum sticks. They manufactured spruce chewing gum on top of a Franklin stove. John B. Curtis marketed his product as "State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum".

In 1848, John Bacon Curtis started in his wife’s pots. He was boiled spruce gum and then poured into a tub of ice water and strained. The gum was sold in sticks one centimeter wide and two centimeters long in tissue paper. That was the first commercial production of chewing gum. At first, sales were slow because people didn’t known much about the new gum. The first year he traveled all throughout New England and became a commercial sales traveler.

After John B. Curtis and his family moved their chewing gum business to larger facilities at Portland, Maine, where he founded a new firm with his father "Curtis & Son".

The Curtis Company thrived, and business grew. He had more than 200 employees. Jonh Bacon Curtis developed a machine to mass produce gum. His factory turned out eighteen hundred boxes of chewing gum in a day.

In the late 19th century there was big competition on USA chewing gum market. In 1850, once again John B. Curtis was ahead of his time. He added paraffin gums to their product line. The addition of sugar produced the gum with a sweet taste. Flavored paraffin gums becoming more popular than spruce gums. Some of the most popular spruce gums with paraffin flavors, at that time, were White Mountain, American Flag, Biggest and Best, Sugar Cream, Four In Hand and etc.

John B. Curtis and his family became very wealthy.

The John B. Curtis's created chewing gum manufacturing process that is still used today.