A “Wrigle(y)” in Time: Gum Part 1

Today is National Chewing Gum Day! At the NJ Digital Newspaper Project office, we realized that Wrigley’s Gum makes frequent appearances in the newspapers — so frequent that two of us wrote blog posts about them! We’re sharing both posts today, so be sure to check back later! [Click here for part 2]

Wrigley’s gum originally began as a Philadelphia company that produced soap by its namesake’s – William Wrigley, Jr. – father. Wrigley, Jr. then moved to Chicago to start a branch location for his father’s company. It was in Chicago that Wrigley began to offer baking powder (which became a popular product) along with the soap. When Wrigley sold baking powder, he added free chewing gum to the product. You can guess how successful that idea turned out!

Wrigley started his gum business in 1893 with the now signature Juicy Fruit, followed by Wrigley’s Spearmint a few months later. Below is an ad from the November 27, 1918 edition of the Perth Amboy Evening News showcasing all three flavors .

Wrigley's ad that showcases the three main brands of gum available

Take a look at some of these war-time advertisements that Wrigley purchased in various New Jersey newspapers! Wrigley invested more than a million dollars into the advertising and marketing strategy of Wrigley’s gum. War-time efforts by Wrigley’s gum included shifting from wrappers produced from tin foil to wax paper, something that the ads point out as a show of how cooperative the company was. The image below was featured in the October 17, 1917 edition of the Perth Amboy Evening News.

Wrigley's ad that is discussing the value of gum to a solider's lifestyle

Wrigley heavily utilized advertising tactics such as the Spearmen: arrow-headed characters who came with their own opportunities for story line expansion to pander to young children and entice them to purchase the Doublemint and Juicy Fruit lines when they were first introduced. In this time period, chewing gum was considered to be rude. Wrigley likely attempted this advertisement bombardment to tackle this social “don’t” and turn it up on its head. The image below was featured in the April 7, 1915 edition of the Perth Amboy Evening News.

Wrigley's gum ad discussing the United Profit Sharing coupons

Also on these advertisements were the United Profit-Sharing Coupons. These coupons were an incentive that Wrigley included with their gum. They were partnerships with other manufacturers to include coupons for their product via a redemption center or mail-in. (Think Dum Dum wrapper mail-ins for prizes from childhood!). See these coupons advertised in the below featured ad from the June 3, 1915 edition of the Newark Evening Star!

Wrigley's gum ad that shows the Spearmen along the right side edge of the ad. The Spearmen have arrow shaped heads and are doing various everyday actions from mowing the lawn to walking with a lantern for light.

In addition to our lovely collection of ads in the New Jersey papers, check out a similar digitization and outreach program to ours in North Carolina! These Wrigley ads were truly everywhere!

(Contributed by Natalie Lau)


Blazeski, Goran. “The Story of William Wrigley Jr.- Soap Salesman Who Became the World’s Best Gum Manufacturer.” The Vintage News, 28 Nov. 2016, www.thevintagenews.com/2016/11/28/the-story-of-william-wrigley-jr-soap-salesman-who-became-the-worlds-best-gum-manufacturer/

Heller, Steven. “The Spearmen Are Dear Men, Buy Gum.” PRINT, 10 Sept. 2020, www.printmag.com/post/wrigley-gum-spearmen

O, Joe. “What Were – United Profit-Sharing Coupons.” Webcommand.net, 22 July 2019, www.webcommand.net/index.php/2019/07/22/what-were-united-profit-sharing-coupons/

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