Chewing gum: legacy of the Maya at Bonanza Ranch

The Maya civilization left a rich cultural legacy which includes important gastronomic traditions, a good example of this is the manufacturing of chewing gum. They produced it and used it as an oral hygiene product; they called it “sicte”, which means vital fluid or blood in reference to the sap that flows inside trees, and which is the main ingredient in chewing gum.

Bonanza Ranch is a natural and well-preserved natural area ideally located in what used to be a Maya region, this is why it is still possible to find the source of such ingredient. If you would like to learn more about chewing gum’s history and manufacturing process you may want to continue reading this article.

Maya chewing gum history

The Maya used “sicte” for cleaning their gums because they knew of the antibacterial properties found in sapodilla’s tree sap. In order to produce this useful product they first had to obtain the sap by making some cuts through the tree’s bark. This technique has been passed from generation to generation till now.

The industrialization of chewing gum began during the 19th century when Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was living in exile in New York and introduced the product to the American scientist Thomas Adams.
Some years later the people that got established on the Maya region found chewing gum production very profitable, which later on spread along the whole state of Quintana Roo.

Chewing gum’s original manufacturing process

Nowadays the manufacturing process has become artificial and chewing gum is also consumed as candy.
However, there are still some Mexican companies, such as Chicza, that up to this time continue to use the original technique which consists of collecting a sufficient amount of sap from the tree by making zigzag-shape cuts through its bark, the next step is to boil it, add flavorings (Chicza chewing gum contains natural flavorings such as sugarcane juice, peppermint extract, agave syrup and a mix of secret ingredients), and once it has cooled down, the final product is ready for packaging and distribution.

Now that you have learned a little more about how chewing gum is made, come to Bonanza Ranch and see the sapodilla tree yourself, and also find Chicza’s chewing gum here at our souvenir store. Continue reading our blog where you will find interesting and useful articles, as well as the latest recommendations about our activities.