In 1962, a pack of chewing gum cost five cents. That might seem like something insignificant at present, but the flavored gums of the 1960s had been slowly taking over American culture since the turn of the century.
But, flavored chewing gum hasn’t lasted for over 100 years without a little flexibility. Each decade brought its own personality and trends to the chewing gum industry, and the 60s were certainly no different. Here’s how flavored gum found its voice in the middle of America in the Swinging Sixties:
The Soviet space program launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, and the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union began shortly after. Astronauts and space flight became the new buzzwords between people of all ages, and space exploration replaced the Wild West in the imaginations of most children.
Not surprisingly, the candies and gums of the 1960s took a lot of inspiration from the public’s increasing obsession with space travel and extraterrestrials. Simple gumballs shaped like rockets, satellites, and bizarre planets were among the first to arrive on the scene, but things quickly evolved from there. Before all was said and done, there was a rocket-shaped candy on the market actually designed by former rocket scientists.
The 60s were a time for experimentation on many fronts, such as art, music, clothing, and even civil rights. Taking a cue from pop culture, the chewing gum industry also got a little wacky and uninhibited, creating some wild and memorable flavors that are now lost to time.
Adams Sour Orange was a new flavor from the same makers of the original Black Jack, and its extraordinarily tart and distinctive taste garnered it a very passionate fanbase before being discontinued. Towards the end of the 60s, Adams also introduced three flavors of “ice cream” gum, including chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
By the end of the 50s, flavored gum was already attracting a younger and younger crowd. “Bubble” gum became popular with kids and pre-teens, while chewing gum became increasingly associated with teenagers and the “high school” aesthetic. The cultural attitudes linked to gum even birthed a distinct genre of music. The “Bubblegum Pop” of the 60s and 70s was characterized by upbeat, producer-driven music marketed mostly to teens and pre-teens.
Lots of things were changing in the 60s, including the world of gum. Black Jack, Beemans, and Clove were there for every bit of it. Check out the full story of America’s first flavored gums!