Beemans Gum Five Stick Pack
In 1879, Dr. Edward E. Beeman, an Ohio physician, turned gum – which had been simply a fun thing – into a product with valuable features. Setting aside his practice of medicine, Beeman used his medicinal skills to manufacture a pepsin powder to be used as a digestive aid.
During a discussion regarding his new invention, his bookkeeper, Nellie Horton, suggested that he put the pepsin into chewing gum "since so many people buy pepsin for digestion and chewing gum for no reason at all." Beeman blended his pepsin compound with chicle and printed each label with a pig, the logo for his pepsin powder ("With pepsin, you can eat like a pig"). Beeman’s financier later switched out the pig for a photo of Beeman’s bearded face, which boosted sales even higher.
In 1898, after almost 20 years of limited production and distribution, Beeman’s became part of the Adams Company and was mass-produced for the first time. Through the life of the gum, Beeman’s earned recognition most prominently through the early days of the space program. Pioneering test pilot Chuck Yeager, as seen in the movie The Right Stuff, chewed Beeman’s during just about every significant flight he made in the ’40s and ’50s. He described that he breathed pure oxygen through his in-flight mask, which made his mouth extremely dry. Beeman’s helped keep his mouth moist.
Beeman’s was sold for 100 years before being discontinued in 1978, only to be brought back to the market in 1985, again in 2005 as a limited-edition nostalgia product, and then again in 2019.