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 how to use spruce gum and sell it like 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 boiled spruce gum, poured it into a tub of ice water, and strained it. The gum was sold on 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 know much about the new gum. In the first year, he traveled throughout New England and became a commercial sales traveler.
After John B. Curtis and his family moved their chewing gum business to more extensive facilities in Portland, Maine, he founded a new firm with his father "Curtis & Son."
The Curtis Company thrived, and business grew. He had more than 200 employees. John 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 significant competition in the US chewing gum market. In 1850, John B. Curtis was ahead of his time again. He added paraffin gums to their product line. The addition of sugar produced the gum with a sweet taste. Flavored paraffin gums are becoming more popular than spruce gums. Some popular spruce gums with paraffin flavors were White Mountain, American Flag, Biggest and Best, Sugar Cream, Four In Hand, etc.
John B. Curtis's created the chewing gum manufacturing process that is still used today.