Chewing gum as we know it today is made with synthetic rubber from the synthetic Polymer . However, in its beginnings, the Mayas produced it by using latex from the Zapote Trees, popularly known as the Chiclets Trees.
We can find Chiclet Trees from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico to the South of Costa Rica.
The Chiclets tree was called by the Mayas as a sicté and it was until the 19th century that faith was known and popularized by the rest of the world. Prior to the discovery of synthetic rubber, latex extraction from the Zapote Trees was the main reason for the Mayan settlement of the Yucatan peninsula and also the main economic activity of the region.
The story tells that a General named Antonio Santa Ana, who had been president of Mexico was exiled to the United States. There he met Thomas Adams, a photographer, and inventor, who proposed to use latex from the sapwood trees to synthesize a substitute for cheaper vulcanized rubber. In its beginnings, the project did not bear fruits because they failed to obtain a material of good quality. When Thomas Adams was on the verge of bankruptcy he went to a pharmacy to buy some medicine and saw a girl buying a chewing gum which was made of paraffin. It was then that he discovered the potential of the product and decided to market that latex as a chewing gum with the slogan: Adams' New York Gum No. 1 - Snapping and Stretching. The project was so successful that since then the brand became more and more popular.
Latex is a substance that releases some trees when their bark is damaged. It should not be confused with the Sabia, which also exudes in the same situation. The latex is extracted by zig-zag or "X" incisions on its bark so that it flows into the containers placed at the base of the trees. After a drying process, they obtained a chewing gum that the Mayas used to clean their teeth
In the 1950s a synthetic polymer was discovered which lowered costs significantly, which marked the decline of exports and the extraction of Chiclets resin. But thanks to a worldwide trend to consume organic products, the production of chiclet gum has had a slight rebound in recent years for being a natural product from these legendary trees.
An interesting challenge for your creations is that the gum does not absorb flavors, but it does absorb sugar. So a popcorn seller managed to mix flavorings with corn syrup and then add the mixture to the chewing gum. As the syrup is basically sugar, the experiment was successful giving rise to the first mint gum with the name of Yucatan.
In San Luis Obispo, California, there is a Higuera Street alley, on which young people started chewing gum in the early 1960s. Today it is the only monument to chewing gum known. In the corners, there are vending machines of gum so that each person can leave their tribute and contribution to this place of contemporary art.
: Synthetic polymers are those that are obtained in the laboratory or in industry. Some examples of synthetic polymers are nylon, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, etc.