Which gum Americans are chewing on these days

What are you chewing on, little man?
What are you chewing on, little man?
Image: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
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The US isn’t chewing gum like it used to.

Chewing gum sales have dipped by 11% since 2009, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor. And they’re expected to fall by another 4% over the next 5 years. The CEO of candy giant Mondelēz, Irene Rosenfeld, told investors last month that she’s “not expecting any dramatic recovery in the category anytime soon.”

That doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t chewing gum, because they are—last year they unwrapped more than $3.7 billion-worth. They just aren’t chewing the kinds they used to.

A growing concern about sugar intake has led to the collapse of sugared gum consumption. In 2000, sales of gum with and without sugar was fairly close in the US—$930 million worth and $1.1 billion, respectively. But since then, that gap has ballooned. Last year sugar-free gum sales were a shade under $3 billion, while sugared gum sales fell below $500 million.


The 2000s have been especially unkind to a certain kind of sugared variety. Bubble gum sales have more than halved since 2000.


Over the past six years alone, Bubble Gum has fallen in popularity, going from being America’s sixth favorite flavor to its tenth. Even watermelon is more popular.

Here’s what the rankings looked like in 2008:

  1. Mint
  2. Spearmint
  3. Peppermint
  4. Wintergreen
  5. Berry
  6. Bubble gum
  7. Cinnamon
  8. Mixed fruit
  9. Citrus
  10. Watermelon

Here’s what they look like now:

  1. Mint
  2. Spearmint
  3. Peppermint
  4. Berry
  5. Citrus
  6. Wintergreen
  7. Mixed fruit
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Watermelon
  10. Bubble gum

Fittingly, the brands selling the most gum to Americans these days—namely Trident to Orbit, Extra, Dentyne, 5, and Eclipse—specialize in sugar-free, mint-flavored gum.


The changing landscape of gum chewing in America has led some big-name gum and candy makers to improvise on the marketing end. Mars, which makes Big Red, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit and Orbit, among others, is experimenting with illuminated gum racks, according to the Associated Press. The company is also contemplating a less diverse the range of flavors. “We’ve made shopping for gum very complicated,” Casey Keller, president of the Wrigley’s North America division, told the Wall Street Journal last year (paywall). “On average we have 50 different varieties of gum in a convenience store, and that’s just Wrigley.” Meanwhile Mondelēz, which makes Trident and Stride, has doubled its efforts to attract more teenage gum-chewers. And Bazooka, the company behind Bazooka Joe bubble gum, has switched out its wrappers’ iconic cartoons for quizzes and brainteasers meant to drive customers to supplemental digital content.

If America continues to chew less gum, the scramble to stay relevant in the American gum game will only grow more fierce.