For many years, a rubber-like gum base was the chief ingredient in chewing gum. This gum base was made from chicle, a milky juice that comes from the sapodilla tree of Mexico and Central America. But in the middle 1900s, chewing gum manufacturers created synthetic gum base out of rubber, wax, and plastic.
In the manufacturing process, the gum base is mixed with softeners to help the gum retain its moisture, and sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup to make it tasty.
Once the ingredients are mixed, they are sterilized and melted in a steam cooker, then pumped through a machine that spins at high speed to rid the gum of bits of dirt and bark found in the raw gum.
The strained gum is then run between rollers that flatten it into long, flat sheets. Powdered sugar is sprinkled on both sides of the gum to keep it from sticking to the rollers.
When the gum cools and hardens, machines cut the sheets into sticks or small pellets which are later candy coated. Other machines then wrap and package the sticks of gum or box and wrap the pellets.
Bubble gum, which was first produced in 1928, is made much the same way, except that its base is more rubbery to make it stretch without tearing.
The American Indians in New England taught the colonists how to chew the gum they made from the sap of spruce trees!