When Was Big League Chew Invented

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For kids that love baseball, Big League Chew is just another experience that occurs while growing up. It’s bubble gum, but it has been shredded and placed into a package that at the time of its invention was reminiscent of the tobacco chewing bags that were sold at the time. The tobacco chew was also cut into strips, so the idea was simple: encourage a healthier chewing action for ballplayers on the field while giving kids the chance to be like their favorite ballplayers while at home.

The inventor of the product was Rob Nelson, who at the time was a southpaw pitcher for the Single A Portland Mavericks. Nelson got to pitch in the Major Leagues for about 5 years and is currently the owner of a private baseball instruction company, but he will long be remembered for his invention. Jim Bouton, who was an all-star pitcher rehabbing his way back to the majors, helped design the pouch as Nelson designed the gum.

How Big Did Big League Chew Get?

The story of Big League Chew is one that is surprisingly filled with failure. Nelson and Bouton pitched the pouches of gum to all of the major gum companies of the time and they always got turned down. It wasn’t until 1980 that a novelty company was willing to take a risk on this innovative gum product. In the first 12 months that the gum was on sale, it sold over $18 million at wholesale prices for Amurol Products.

It was attractive to kids for three primary reasons:
1. The packaging could be sealed up again so you didn’t have to eat all of the gum at one time.
2. You could jam all of the textured strips of gum into your mouth at one time and make massive bubbles with it.
3. When you chewed the grape flavored gum, your spit looked just like if you had been chewing tobacco.

The trademark of a Big League Chew package was the beefy cartoon baseball player. It sent a clear message that the biggest, baddest baseball players all chewed Big League Chew and so should you. In 2013, real baseball players took over on the packaging promotion – no truth to the rumor that it was to avoid the impression that there were steroids or PEDs in the gum based on the initial baseball players on the package.

Have You Ever Chewed Big League Chew?

The neatest thing about having a package of Big League Chew is that the gum is uniquely textured. The argument could be made that it could encourage kids to want to chew tobacco, but the concept was to prevent it from happening and so the gum replicates the texture of real chew. The only bad thing about the gum is that it can lose its flavor really, really fast. That’s why you’d put in one strip at a time… or make a massive gumball in your mouth with the entire package.

Transferred to Wrigley and now produced by Ford Gum and Machine Company, hundreds of millions of packages have been sold since its invention. Go grab some today and try it – maybe for the first time.

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