Beemans gum was invented in the late 1800s by an Ohio physician, Dr. Edward E. Beeman. Originally, the good doctor intended the gum as a soothing digestif, so he included pepsin powder in the first chicle recipe to help settle the stomach. From there, Beemans gum took on a life of its own—cementing itself into American pop culture in more ways than one!
Once Beemans was bought by the American Chicle Company in 1898, it began a long and wild ride to the chewy and minty place in history it holds today.
In the 40s and 50s, American pilots were serious celebrities. Flying in an aircraft was still a novel thing, and the most prestigious and most daring pilots around were cheered and admired like top-tier professional athletes—cosmopolitan people with almost unbelievable jobs.
Beemans first became popular with pilots because of its stomach-soothing pepsin powder. This addition, coupled with the act of chewing gum, helped early pilots avoid motion sickness and nausea. Shortly after, Beemans became known as the “lucky” gum for pilots when the world-famous Chuck Yeager admitted to chewing a stick before each flight.
Most famously, Beemans was featured in The Right Stuff, a 1983 film showcasing the military test pilots involved in NASA’s Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program in the United States. Sam Shephard plays Chuck Yeager, one of the lead pilots and avid Beemans gum enthusiast. In one scene, Yeager asks his fellow pilot for a stick of Beemans gum, “Hey, Ridley—got any Beemans?,” and the gum brand hasn’t completely left Hollywood since.
Since that pivotal scene, Beemans has been featured in The Rocketeer, Hot Shots!, Disney’s Tomorrowland, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull—to name a few. To Hollywood, Beemans has become “the gum of yesteryear,” and it’s undoubtedly happy to play that role.
At some point, Beemans removed the pepsin powder, yet retained the same timeless mint flavor. Along Black Jack and Clove, it has been bought and sold a few times over the years, but it has finally found a new home at vintagegums.com. As the original mint gum, its flavor is one-of-a-kind, and its place in history is undeniable.
Looking to track down some Beemans of your own? Find a store near you that is currently offering Vintage Gums!