William Wrigley, Jr. (1861 – 1932)

Born    : September 30, 1861 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Died    : January 26, 1932 (aged 70) in Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Occupation      : Confectionery Magnate

Spouse(s)         : Ada

Children          : Dorothy, Philip Knight Wrigley

Parents            : William and Mary A. Ladley

William Wrigley

Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years. For a long time, gum was made from things like sap and wax. It did not always taste good. Today’s gum is sweet and comes in many flavors. William Wrigley Jr. is best known for his chewing gum, and his company today is the largest producer and distributor of chewing gum in the world. Wrigley single-handedly chewed up competition to remain on the top of the gum business, because as put it, “when two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

While the first chewing gum to be widely advertised was Adams’ Tutti-Frutti, it took the father of the gum, William Wrigley, Jr., to elevate the marketing of gum to an art. In the year 1891, Wrigley arrived in Chicago from Philadelphia. His father had been a soap manufacturer, and the new, would-be businessman initially started that trade by selling a washing soap. Wrigley sought to increase the business by offering vendors baking powder as a free item, and when the baking powder became more popular than the soap, he made that his primary product.

Wrigley then decided to give away two packages of chewing gum free with each can of baking powder. Once again the free item was more popular than the original product sold, and Wrigley entered the gum business. He contacted the Zeno Gum Company to manufacture his product. Zeno made paraffin gum, but Wrigley directed a change to the product. The first gums produced were Lotta, Vassar, and Sweet Sixteen Orange. In 1893 he introduced Juicy Fruit and Spearmint.

Wrigley had entered a competitive held There were at least a dozen companies at the time, and in 1899 the six largest, including Thomas Adams’ firm, formed a powerful ” Chewing gum trust “Wrigley refused to join, preferring his independence. Though he was a stickler for quality, Wrigley’s great talent was his advertising ability. “Anybody can make gum,” he once said. “Selling it is the problem.” His placards appeared in streetcars and subways, and he constructed electric signs, one of them in Manhattan’s Times Square ran up an annual electric bill of more than $100,000. He also sent free samples to millions.

chewing gum

Wrigley’s most impressive selling venture was the “mile-long” sign consisting of 117 linked billboards lining the tracks of a railroad between Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey. In 1915 he developed a Mother Goose booklet and gave away some 14 million copies. The brightly-colored volume featured Mother Goose rhymes rewritten to praise Wrigley’s gum (“Jack be nimble/ Jack be quick/ Jack run get your/ Wrigley stick!”). The gum magnate eventually became the largest purchaser of advertising in the United States.

By 1910, Spearmint was the most popular gum in the nation, and in Canada, Wrigley constructed the first of his many factories outside the United States. To boost his company’s image, Wrigley had Chicago’s best architects design “the house that gum built,” a beautiful, white, terra-cotta skyscraper that became one of the city’s great landmarks, and the company’s corporate headquarters.

The company currently sells its products in more than 180 countries and maintains 14 factories in various countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines, France, Kenya, Taiwan, China, India, Poland, and Russia.

Wrigley was a much beloved figure, celebrated for his fair dealings with employees, which included free laundering of work clothes, free manicures for women workers, free life insurance, and a guaranteed annual wage. He was also the first employer in the United States to give the two-day weekend.

In addition to his salesmanship and energy, Wrigley’s success was surely based on his sunny view of life. To him, fear was the great destroyer of dreams.”Thousands are ruled by it,” he once said.”I’ve been broke three times since I started business. Nobody knew it except myself and it didn’t cause me loss of a minute’s sleep. There’s nothing in life that can really hurt you except yourself.” William Wrigley,Jr., died in 1932, leaving the business in his family’s hands.

In 2004 Wrigley company purchased the Life Savers (A traditional American brand of ring shaped hard candy, which are packaged in rolls of about 15 pieces) and Altoids (a popular brand of breath mints that have been in existence since the turn of the 19th century) businesses from Kraft Food for US$1.48 billion.

The William Wrigley Jr. Company today is the world’s number one maker of chewing and bubble gum. Its products include such popular brands as Big Red, Double-mint, Eclipse, Extra, Freedent, Juicy Fruit, Orbit, Spearmint, and Winter- fresh, as well as novelty gums and candies.

The gum trade has been and remains highly competitive and creative. Gums have been used to administer aspirin, nicotine, laxatives, and airsickness medicine. They have been produced in flavors ranging from cinnamon and watermelon to clove and ginseng. Gum has been made sugarless and stick-less (so it won’t pull out dental fillings), spicy and icy, and fruity and minty While chewing gum never won a war or altered the course of history, the sticky substance’s development remains a clever example of American ingenuity and innovation. And, all the credit for that goes to William Wrigley Jr.

William Wrigley, Jr. (1861 – 1932)
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