Tuesday, April 9, 2024

H is for Hey, I Could Have Used This For "G" But I Forgot I Had It


#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter H

I am in the process of sorting through everything in my parents' home, and in so doing, I have been looking through all my childhood memorabilia, the majority of which I hadn't seen since my parents packed up my belongings and moved them from the home I grew up in to this house some 45 years ago. My 2024 A to Z Challenge theme is based on the treasures I have found in the boxes and the drawers and closets. Join me on my bittersweet journey back to my childhood.

High school (and college) girls don't carry purses anymore. All they seem to use are tiny wallets that attach to their keychains for their driver's license and a debit card, and I see these and wonder, "Where do they keep their gum?"

We were gum chewers when I was in school. It was forbidden, which is probably why it was so desirable, and teachers made you spit it in the trash can if they caught you with it. You learned to tuck it away in your mouth and talk with it there without getting busted, and we didn't hesitate to swallow it if necessary (where, contrary to popular belief, it did NOT stay in our stomachs for seven years). There was no such thing as sugar-free gum, and I'm sure we got plenty of cavities that were directly related to gum chewing.

Gum came five sticks to a pack, but at some point in the mid-1970s, the companies made larger packs with about 15 sticks to a pack. Each stick was tucked into a piece of foil that folded over the ends and then wrapped with a paper wrapper, and those paper wrappers were saved to make ART! 

Behold, the gum wrapper chain:

Each link is made from one gum wrapper.

The chain, coiled like this, is about 4 inches across

Close up

Closer up....

Lewis for scale. He really really really wanted to
keep this for his own, but I didn't save it for 45 
years for him to destroy it in one night, so sorry, Lew.

The wrappers are folded and slipped together to interlock them into the chain. I can't explain it, but give me some gum wrappers, and I can still make one.

You were supposed to make your gum wrapper chain as long as your boyfriend. I measured mine just now and it is 6'2".

I did not even have a boyfriend.

With the changes in packaging over the years, you'd be hard-put these days to make a gum wrapper chain that is as tall as your boyfriend (unless your boyfriend is Lewis). 

Should I continue to keep this little gem for posterity? Nah, but I'm going to anyway!


  1. Gum wrapper chains? What the? The only wrappers we got fancy with were Minties, I think because they ran a competition for the longest strip made my tearing a single wrapper. Incidentally, did you know that Wrigley's Juicy Fruit was the very first commercial product to be sold with a barcode on the wrapper?

  2. Oh I remember those days! I think so many chewed gum because it was not allowed. Well, that and the sugar rush.
    Tim Brannan, The Other Side blog
    2024 A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons, Celebrating 50 Years of D&D

  3. I remember gum wrapper chains! Gee...did I just date myself? Thanks for the memory. :-)

  4. We didn't make gum paper chains. What I remember about gum is that my grandmother would give us half a stick of whatever kind that was in the green package. That's the only kind she bought. Our favorite kind was Juicy Fruit, which we rarely got. When we were old enough to stop at the corner store and buy our own candy and gum, I just remember buying candy. Or one fall we bought pomegranates.

  5. I remember all of us folding the foil and tucking it back in the wrapper, then back in the package, and offering it to someone else! Guess we thought it was clever.

  6. I wasn't really a gum chewer, but I do remember kids making those chains. Your posts really are a trip down memory lane!

  7. I don't remember l making chains from gum wrappers (the green was Doublemint, I think), but we did make them from just about anything else. I commend your six foot chain. What dedication! I would definitely keep it. Think I Lewis would if you got rid of it!

  8. I used to chew gums. But never really caught on to it!