Bubble Gum Alley in downtown
San Luis Obispo has long delighted adults and kids who stop to pause
and look at thousands of pieces of chewed up gum stuck on the walls
of two buildings that provide a walkway from a parking lot to the
downtown shops. The alley can be found on Higuera Street,
between Broad and Garden streets, as shown in the
Bubble Gum Alley
video we took.
Sometimes we forget that
Bubble Gum Alley exists. Thatt's because we've been going there so
long that at some point the novelty wears off. After visiting a
museum in Belize and seeing how chewing gum was popularized in
the U.S. in the late 1860's utilizing chicle, a milky juice (latex)
of the sapodilla tree, which grows in the tropical rain forests of
Central America, it struck us that this Bubble Gum Wall concept
would only work with modern, color-injected products. How boring it
would be to look at a wall with the dull, consistent grey color!
While Wrigley Gum has an
anti-litter campaign which began in 1933 when a message was firstt
printed on the wrapper of each stick of gum, reminding consumers to
dispose of their gum and wrappers
responsibly, Bubble Gum Alley has taken pop culture to a new level.
since the late
1950's, Bubble Gum Alley has gotten out of hand occasionally,
prompting merchants to place signs on their adjacent storefronts
that direct gum contributors around the corner to two specific
walls. Considered a therapeutic
product and a tooth and breath refresher, earliest gum chewing can
be traced to the ancient Greeks. For centuries Greeks chewed mastic
gum, a resin obtained from the bark of the
mastic tree found mainly in Greece and Turkey. Grecian women
especially favored chewing mastic gum to clean their teeth. Through
the centuries, cultures used local tree extracts and barks for
By the early 1900s, with
improved methods of manufacturing, packaging and marketing, modern
chewing gum gained momentum, becoming a mainstay that's endured
several world wars when gum was scarce. Thousands of flavors
have been test-marketed and twins became "in" thanks to Doublemint
According to Wrigley, gum
today is made with five main ingredients: chewing gum base, sugar,
corn syrup, softeners and flavorings. In Extra sugarfree gum,
aspartame, mannitol and sorbitol replace sugar and corn syrup.
In Singapore chewing gum has
been banned since 1992 because people were leaving it on walls and
in public places where cleanup became a problem. A 2004 revision of
the initial ban was created because of a bilateral free trade
agreement between the U.S. and Singapore known as the USS-FTA.
Chewing gum is now permitted for therapeutic use, necessitated by
the trade agreement's conditions for free trade.