San Luis Obispo




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Bubble Gum Alley Pictures - San Luis Obispo, California


bubble gum alley

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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.


In existence 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 recreational chewing. 


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 Gum.


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.