The Mayas of southern Mexico were fond of chewing gum. One of their heroes, Kukulkan, who was worshipped as a god is thought to have been a chewing-gum addict.
The Mayas called it chicle. It was obtained from wild sapodilla trees. They made cuts in the bark of the tree and collected the thick milky liquid that oozed out. When the liquid hardened, it was delectable to chew. The habit of chewing gum spread all over Central America. When the Spaniards invaded the Aztec Empire in 1518, they found people chewing energetically on gum, but the habit did not catch on with the Europeans.
The credit for introducing chewing gum to the rest of the world goes to the two Americans, Thomas Adams Jr. and William Wrigley Jr. These two men, independent of each other began to produce and market chewing gum in the 1870s.
The demand became so great that Mayan Indians had to work overtime to find gum yielding sapidilla trees. It was while searching for these trees that the ruins of many of the great Mayan cities of the past were discovered.