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Chicle: A gift with love from Mexican and American friendship to the World

25 February 2010 No Comment

As surprising as it may seem, chewing gum or chicle is a worldwide popular product that resulted from the friendship of former Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and the American scientist and inventor, Thomas Adams.

Santa Anna was a Mexican political leader, general and was President on eleven non-consecutive occasions, who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government. He lived in exile in the USA and other countries.

It was during the time he lived in the USA that he met Thomas Adams, who later became his assistant. During this time, Santa Anna brought in the first shipment of chicle into the USA aiming to replace rubber in carriage tires, which was tried by Adams without success.

Later on, while Adams attempted to make toys, masks, rain boots, and bicycle tires out of chicle without any luck, he was struck by the idea that perhaps chicle could be used for the production of chewing gum as he had frequently seen his friend Santa Anna do.

This was not a surprise since chicle was well known to ancient Mexicans -such as the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs and the Mayan- for its subtle flavor and high sugar content. Chicle is the natural gum from Manilkara chicle, which is a tropical evergreen tree native to Mexico and Central America. The tapping of the gum is similar to the tapping of latex from the rubber tree.

Mr. Adams then experimented with chicle and transformed the chewing gum made of paraffin wax into one made of pure chicle gum without any flavor. It was made in little penny sticks and wrapped in various colored tissue papers. He added sugar to the chicle creating the forerunner gum known as chewing gum, so shush, which is still popular today.

The ancient word is still used in the Americas, chicle being a common name for chewing gum in Spanish.

Chicle is a gift to the World and a result of Mexican and American friendship and collaboration, as well as the wonderful things we can create together. What wonderful things do we want to create this time?

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