Chewing gum, in various forms, has existed since at least Ancient Greece. The Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree. Many other cultures have chewed gum-like substances made from plants, grasses, and resins. The American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees. The New England settlers picked up this practice, and in the early 1880s attempts were made to commercially market spruce gum. Around 1850 a gum made from paraffin wax was developed and soon exceeded the spruce gum in popularity. Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was imported from Mexico for use as a rubber subsititute. Chicle did not succeed as a replacement for rubber, but as a gum it soon dominated the market. Chicle gum, and gum made from similar latexes, had a smoother and softer texture and held flavor better. Most chewing gum companies have switched to synthetic gum bases because of its low price and availability. According to their website, Glee Gum is the last gum manufacturer in the United States to produce gum using all-natural chicle. In 1848 John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.
In 1855 a group of left wing revolutionaries led by Benito Juárez and Ignacio Comonfort overthrew Mexican dictator Santa Anna, who fled back to Cuba. He then lived in exile in Cuba, the United States, Colombia, and St. Thomas. During his time in New York City he is credited as bringing the first shipments of chicle, the base of chewing gum, to the United States, but he failed to profit from this since his plan was to use the chicle to replace rubber in carriage tires, which was tried without success.
The American assigned to aid Santa Anna while he was in the US, Thomas Adams, conducted experiments with the chicle and (re-)discovered its possible use as a confectionary chewing gum.
William Semple filed the first patent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.