Accessorize Your Breath: The Evolution of Gum


The basic rules pertaining to chewing gum have always been very straightforward; you chew it and you don’t fall asleep with it in your mouth. If you do happen to break either of these rules, typically the most harm you could do is trigger an emergency haircut. Consequently, as progress marches steadily onward since gum’s introduction in 1870, its simplicity remains its strongest draw and most popular attribute.

While remaining basic in nature and simple in its operation, the elementary nature of gum is also quickly becoming its own worst enemy, as “simple” translates directly into “boring” in the lexicon of today’s rabid consumerist mentality. Marketing teams continue to compete over market share with a variety of inventive tactics that range from musical productions to intensely irritating to classic guitar and classic anti-guitar and even somewhat amusing. And we can’t forget “dancing” Matt or that tiny Irish Extra stick man that any sensible person would love to rip apart with their teeth if the opportunity presented itself.

Gum Timeline

With television and print media historically being the main outlet of popularizing many brands, there has been a subtle but noticeable shift in tactics in the past year. The concept of gum as an trendy accessory seems to be on the rise. This has never been more apparent than with Wrigley’s newest product line called Five. From a gum perspective, it’s nothing new – you still chew it. However, from a design perspective, it’s exceptional! The creative design engineering that went into creating the packaging for this gum is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Without having any numbers to back-up this claim, it might be safe to estimate that this packaging design attains the status of highest package-to-product cost ratio in the history of gum. This may sound like a wild assumption to make, but take a look at the detail involved here:

Cobalt Package

In addition to this detail on the front of the package, even the back of the flap is printed black with grey swirls which could as easily be left white by a graphic designer lacking ambition. To top it all off, the “five” on the front of the package is treated to glow under black light. Compared to the mundane history of previous packaging concepts, this intensive detailing is head and shoulders above the competition. Reminiscent of a pack of cigarettes, This is a container that was meant to be retained, displayed, and utilized by the hip and happening.

We would be the first to admit that perhaps even major advances in gum packaging may not be considered a major advancement in society, it may still be beneficial to observe a few key points from this post. Firstly, this is an experiment on directly leveraging good design for profit. Will it work? Wrigley will find out.

Secondly, and more importantly from a marketing perspective, could be the beginning of a designer gum trend? Where society will be judged on what kind of gum they choose to chew. Could a brand of gum rival cell phone, handbags, and iPods, as an ultimate accessory? Perhaps it lacks the usefulness, prestige, and cost factor to achieve such a lofty level of appreciation, however Five Gum is certainly appealing to this segment of society’s psyche.

Until next time, remember to abide by all basic gum chewing instructions. If you run into trouble, here’s some helpful advice.

  • Alan Houser

    You’re not alone! I’ve always bought things simply for the “look”. I’m staring at this EXACT pack of gum on my desk. I’ve recently seen a pack of Doublemint gum with the same modern “5″ design. When Googling, I found this great Wrigley Doublemint walk through time:

  • waste

    y would u even bother