During the 1950s, the United States enjoyed an extended period of economic growth. Thanks to all the expansion and production needed to support the war effort, as well as the relative safety provided by the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, the U.S. found itself on sure footing at the end of the war with no shortage of jobs and a booming economy.
When times are good, people naturally spend more money on sweets and treats—meaning more chewing gum for kids and adults alike. Also, when times are good, such as during the 1950s, people search for variety or extravagance in their purchases. The gum industry, fortunately, was all too eager to oblige with new flavors and an even greater focus on the country’s youth.
Keep reading on for more of what it was like to chew gum in the United States throughout the 1950s.
The dire needs of World War II forced improvements in many forms of technology, most especially construction and engineering. As a result, many gum companies began experimenting away from their traditional recipes. By the early 50s, sugar-free gum had entered the market, and many larger companies were moving away from using the Mexican chicle plant toward using synthetic rubber substitutes that were easier to make, cheaper to use, and produced a longer-lasting product.
All these improvements in production made it cheaper and easier for candy companies to make gum, ship it, and experiment with new flavors and techniques. As a result, the 50s marked the beginning of a massive period of growth for both chewing gum and bubblegum, as more people searched for an extra special treat.
Throughout the 1950s, gum became increasingly associated with American baseball. By the beginning of the decade, baseball cards were already being paired with bubblegum—a match that would prove to significantly bolster the popularity of both baseball players and bubblegum in the eyes of young Americans.
After several years of expecting pieces of gum with your baseball cards, the two became inextricably linked. Before long, more and more baseball players were chewing gum during their games or acting as star-studded spokesmen for large bubblegum companies. These players not have been the first celebrity spokespeople for the world of flavored gums, but they were undoubtedly the most influential.
What happens next? Find out here how chewing gum continued its love affair with American culture in the days of the Space Race and the hippie invasion!