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She specializes in Maya archeology. Trish Simonite hide caption. As Jennifer Mathews tells Liane Hansen, chewing gum is a crime in Singapore, and, in 15th-century Meso-America, it was the mark of a prostitute. The book takes its title from chicle, a natural latex produced by the sapodilla tree for protection against insect attacks, animal bites or even the chiclero -- a person who extract chicle from the tree much like one would tap a maple or rubber tree.
Mathews says that the story of chewing gum as we know it started when Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the time president of Mexico, met with amateur inventor Thomas Adams during his exile in Staten Island, New York.
Santa Ana returned to Mexico penniless, leaving Adams with more chicle than he knew what to do with. One day, the intentor wandered into a candy store and saw a young girl ordering paraffin wax gum. He realized that "kids loved the paraffin wax gum and that chicle was the perfect ingredient to make something along those lines," says Mathews. Adams called his candy "Chicklets.
Wrigley also began a massive advertising campaign to introduce gum to the American public: "At one point, he sent a pack of chewing gum to every resident listed in the United States phone book," says Mathews. Army to include chewing gum in the rations of soldiers. Soldiers, in turn, spread the habit around the world, putting such a high demand on chicle that a synthetic substitute had to be found, making chicle-based gum a rarity.
Despite its popularity, chewing gum was not without its critics. Leon Trotsky argued that gum was a way for capitalism to keep the working man from thinking too much, and in the movies, the villains chewed gum, while the heroes smoked cigarettes. While a few major manufacturers in the United States were making millions on chewing gum, they were also having a major impact on the chicle extraction industry of Latin America.