To not be approached by a child selling little packs of Chiclets gum while in the jardin is unheard of. But where did this gum come from and how is it so popular?
The Chiclets name is derived from the Spanish word “chicle“, derived from the Nahuatl word meaning “sticky stuff” – a pre-Columbian chewing gum found throughout Mesoamerica tapped as a sap from various trees.
Today’s Chiclets are essentially the same as the indigenous chicle with the innovation of a hard sugar coating offered in various flavors and colors. The addition of the sugar coating made the gum easy to ship around the world while also radically extending the candy’s shelf life and freshness.
Exactly who started the Chiclet brand we know today is dicey. Some insist it was Mexico’s own General Santa Anna that while a prisoner in 1865 Texas introduced chicle to a soldier named Thomas Adams. Adams later started a gum company called American Chicle to compete with the then successful gum entrepreneur William Wrigley.
Others insist it was Philadelphia brothers Robert and Frank Fleer that invented the Chiclets we know of today. They sold the rights to American Chicle in 1914.
Chiclets’ now owner, Mondelez International Company, stopped making the candy in the US back in 2016. However, Mexico continues production and the gum under the name Adams and the gum is available at Walmart, Amazon and Ebay. Court cases continue on whether the Chiclet trademark was abandoned in 2016.
Regardless, Chiclets rule supreme as an easy to sell, flavorful gum on centro’s streets.