Wrigley's Spearmint gum is named after company founder William Wrigley, Jr., and the common garden mint (Mentha spicata) better known as spearmint because of the sharp point of its leaves.
William Wrigley, Jr., started his career at the age of thirteen when, following his expulsion from school, his father put him to work selling soap door-to-door.
In 1891, William Wrigley, Jr., moved to Chicago to sell soap and baking powder. At twenty-nine, he started his own business in Chicago-with a wife and child and $32 in cash. When he began offering customers free chewing gum by Zeno Manufacturing, customers offered to buy the gum. So Wrigley developed his own gums, introducing Wrigley's Spearmint and Juicy Fruit in 1893. By 1911, because of Wrigley's insistence on pumping huge amounts of money into advertising, Wrigley's Spearmint had become the leading U.S. gum brand.
In 1915, William Wrigley, Jr. sent four free sticks of gum to every person listed in a U.S. phone book.
The spear-bodied elf character William Wrigley began using before World War I to promote Spearmint gum turned into the cheerful Wrigley gum boy of the 1960s.
During World War II, gum, considered an emergency ration, was also given to soldiers to relieve tension and dry throats on long marches. G.I.s used chewed gum to patch jeep tires, gas tanks, life rafts, and parts of airplanes. Wrigley advertisements recommended five sticks of gum per day for every war worker, insisting that "Factory tests show how chewing gum helps men feel better, work better."
William Wrigley was the first distributor to place gum next to restaurant cash registers.
The Wrigley family bought Catalina Island in 1919 and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in 1931, built the Wrigley building in Chicago in 1924, and owned the Chicago Cubs for 57 years.
The company did not raise the original five cent price of a five-stick package of Wrigley's Spearmint, Juicy Fruit, and Doublemint gums until 1971. Management reluctantly did so by creating a seven-stick package and charging a dime for it.
Before World War II, the basic ingredient of all chewing gum was chicle, the sap of the sapodilla tree indigenous to Central and South America. When chicle became difficult to obtain during World War II, the gum industry developed synthetic gum bases such as polyvinyl acetate, supplied almost entirely by the Hercule Powder Company, an explosives manufacturer.
Psychiatrists have called gum chewing oral masturbation.
Americans chew approximately $2.5 billion worth of gum every year.
The average American chews 190 sticks of gum each year.
According to The Great American Chewing Gum Book by Robert Hendrickson, if all the sticks of gum chewed in America each year were laid end to end, it would equal a stick of gum five million miles long. That's long enough to reach the moon and back ten times.
Since World War II, American soldiers have been issued gum with their K rations and survival kits.
William Wrigley Jr.'s grandson, William Wrigley, owns 30 percent of the company and serves as CEO.
In 1997, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company sold nearly $2 billion worth of gum.
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company has over 50 percent of the U.S. gum market and is the number one chewing gum maker in the world.
Since the collapse of communism, Wrigley's sales to Eastern and Central Europe (including the former Soviet Union) have surged about 50 percent every year since 1990. The same growth rate has been achieved in China since a Wrigley plant opened in Guangshou (the former Canton) in1993. Foreign sales now account for over 55 percent of the company's business.