Beemans Gum – Pepsin Chewing Gum

Beemans Gum , originally named Beeman’s Gum, is a chewing gum invented by Ohio physician Dr. Edward E. Beeman in the late 19th century. Dr. Beeman was selling bottles of powdered pepsin, which people took to aid in digestion.

Pepsin Chewing Gum

Pepsin is found in the stomach and breaks down proteins into peptides. Its precursor is pepsinogen and is released by the chief cells in the stomach. Theodor Schwann discovered pepsin in 1836. He took the name for his discovery from the Greek word pepsis. Pepsis means digestion. It was the first animal enzyme to be discovered and is a protease. In 1929, it was the first enzyme to be crystallized by John Northrop.

Theodor Schwann, born December 7, 1810, was a German physiologist. He made many contributions to biology, in addition to the discovery and study of pepsin. These include the discovery of Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system, the development of cell theory, the invention of the term metabolism, and the discovery of the organic nature of yeast. He died on Jan. 11, 1882, in Cologne, two years after his retirement.

Dr. Beeman’s bookkeeper, Nellie Horton, suggested he put pepsin into gum, because so many people buy pepsin for digestion and gum for no reason. Dr. Beeman blended his powdered pepsin with chicle.

Chicle, which rhymes with tickle, is a natural gum from Manilkara zapota van Royen, the sapodilla tree, which is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Central America. The tree ranges from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to Costa Rica and Colombia. It has traditionally been used in chewing gum. The Wrigley Company was its main user, but only a few companies use it today. In the 1960s butadiene-based synthetic rubber replaced chicle, which is cheaper to manufacture.

Dr. Beeman sold his gum in a wrapper, which showed the picture of a pig with the slogan, “With Pepsin, You Can Eat Like A Pig.” The gum sold even better when a businessman bought his company and replaced the “pig wrapper” with a wrapper showing Dr. Beeman’s bearded face.

The gum became part of the Adams Company line in 1898 and continued to be sold after the purchase of Adams by Warner-Lambert in 1962. Lagging sales caused its production to stop in 1978. As part of a nostalgia campaign, it was reintroduced in 1985 along with Clove and Black Jack chewing gums. Unfortunately, the original ingredients are nowhere to be found in the modern concoction.

Since its creation Beemans gum has been known for its distinctive taste, a taste that dedicated retro candy connoisseurs have sought for years. The manufacturer, Cadbury Adams, releases it only every few years in limited quantities. The currant wrapper design has a white and red background with white and black lettering. Cadbury Adams is a subsidiary of Cadbury PLC, a confectionery company producing candy, gum, breath mints and cough drops. Its headquarters are in Parsippany, New Jersey, USA, with the main headquarters of Cadbury PLC situated in London, England. The company was formed after the then Cadbury Schweppes purchased the Adams brand from Pfizer in 2003.

The gum is featured in the movies Hot Shots!, The Right Stuff and The Rocketeer. It was considered the lucky gum of pilots.