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 Mayans and Chewing Gum

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PostSubject: Mayans and Chewing Gum   Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:20 pm

Zapote or chicozapote are the common names of the tree from which chicle, the chewing gum resin, is extracted. No one knows if the ancient Maya chewed gum (chicle), but pre-Hispanic evidence suggests the Mexicas—also known as Aztecs—once did. Women and young folks chewed gum to clean their teeth.

Legend has it that the American James Adams got his idea for chewing gum by watching Mexico's President Santa Ana chewing on chicle. Adams decided to sell it sweetened and flavoured and Adams chewing gum made him a millionaire.
Chicozapote is one of the most common trees in the jungles of Mesoamerica, There are up to 30 species in some areas. Chicozapote grows in the jungles of eastern Nicaragua and to the great tracts of tropical forest that cover parts of Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatán Peninsula of México.

The number of chicozapote trees located near almost every ancient city suggests that the Maya planted them there. The wood of the tree is very hard, so it is able to last for centuries. Five hundred years after being planted, zapote doors and woodwork are still visible in many ancient Mayan structures.

Chicle is harvested from July through February. Once a tree has been harvested — producing from 500 grams to two kilograms of latex—it should be left alone for up to five years or so, depending on the number of times it has been harvested.
It was not until the Second World War that gum became very popular. American soldiers started to chew gum to relieve tension. Chewing gum became very popular around the world.

In 1943, México exported nearly 9,000 tons of chicle to the United States, the largest amount in the industry's history. Today only a few companies were using real chicle in their gum.

Unlike other regions of Mexico, where up to 80% of the original jungles have been lost to logging, cattle ranching and agriculture, these rainforests have survived. They continue to thrive, covering 1.3 million hectares in the states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatán.
Jungles that witnessed the development of the Mayan culture are currently home to the jaguar and some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the planet.
They stand facing the huge Mesoamerican coral reef, the second largest in the world. These rainforests have been conserved due to the presence of people, not their absence.
Environmentally conscious communities sustainably managed these ancient jungles to the benefit of nature and wildlife. For more than a century, the community, organised as a large, efficient cooperative, has been extracting latex from the tall Chicozapote trees (Manilkara zapota) , from which chicle is prepared. Personally I do not condone any tree that is 'used' for the whims of man, but the fact that they extract the gum in a humane way and care very much for the trees lessens my distaste a little and of course they are sustaining a rainforest.


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PostSubject: Mayans and Chewing Gum   Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:28 pm

How interesting I will never look at chewing gum in the same light I never knew it came from trees and also was shocked how long it has been about. So originally was chewing gum a form of latex then? it is good that they are preserving the Chicozapote trees as like you say a lot are being chopped down but without trees we wouldnt survive. Thankyou ravens for this very interesting post, blessings xxxxxxxx Angel Whispers flower
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