Skip to Content

History of Big League Chew Gum

Big League Chew is a brand of bubble gum that has been a favorite among baseball players and fans since its introduction in 1980. The gum was created by Rob Nelson, a minor league pitcher, and Todd Field, a bat boy for the Portland Mavericks. The two came up with the idea for the gum during a game, when they saw a teammate stuffing a wad of chewing tobacco into his mouth.

Big League Chew was designed to mimic the look and feel of chewing tobacco, but without the harmful health effects. The gum comes in a pouch, just like tobacco, and can be easily tucked into a player’s cheek. The gum’s popularity quickly spread throughout the baseball world, and it has since become a beloved part of the sport’s culture. Today, Big League Chew is available in a variety of flavors, including grape, sour apple, and watermelon.

Origins and Creators

Invention by Rob Nelson and Jim Bouton

Big League Chew is a brand of bubble gum that is shredded, unlike traditional bubble gum products. The gum was invented by Rob Nelson, a minor league pitcher, and Jim Bouton, a former Major League Baseball pitcher. The idea for Big League Chew came about when Nelson and Bouton were discussing ways to improve the experience of chewing gum while playing baseball. They wanted a product that would allow players to chew gum without having to constantly remove it from their mouths.

Initial Concept and Development

To create Big League Chew, Nelson and Bouton experimented with different types of gum and shredding methods. The original concept involved using a paper shredder to shred sheets of bubble gum. They eventually settled on a method that involved using a special machine to shred the gum into thin strips. The gum was then packaged in a pouch that resembled a tobacco pouch, with a baseball-themed design.

The first batch of Big League Chew was produced in 1980 and was an immediate success. The gum was marketed towards baseball players and quickly became a staple in dugouts across the country. Today, Big League Chew is still produced by the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and is available in a variety of flavors. It remains a popular choice among baseball players and fans alike.

Product Launch

First Market Appearance

Big League Chew was introduced in May 1980, with a unique selling proposition of shredded bubble gum. The idea was conceived by Rob Nelson, a former minor league pitcher who realized that many young baseball players were using chewing tobacco to emulate their favorite Major League Baseball (MLB) players. Nelson thought that a healthier alternative to chewing tobacco would be a hit among young players and fans alike. Thus, Big League Chew was born.

Early Success and Expansion

Big League Chew’s packaging was designed by artist Bill Mayer and features a cartoon-style image of a baseball player with a cheek full of gum. The original packaging was pink, but over the years, the gum has been sold in various colors and flavors, including sour apple and grape. The gum quickly became a fan favorite, and by the end of its debut year, it had reached $18 million in sales.

As the popularity of Big League Chew grew, so did its availability. The gum was initially sold in sporting goods stores and ballparks, but it quickly expanded to convenience stores and supermarkets. Today, Big League Chew is sold in over 30 countries and is the number one selling shredded bubble gum in the world.

The success of Big League Chew can be attributed to its unique product offering, clever packaging, and the fact that it filled a gap in the market for a healthier alternative to chewing tobacco. To this day, Big League Chew remains a fan favorite among baseball players and fans alike.

Brand Evolution

Big League Chew has been a popular gum brand since its inception in 1980. Over the years, the brand has evolved in various ways to keep up with changing consumer preferences.

Packaging and Design Changes

The original packaging of Big League Chew featured a cartoon image of a baseball player with a large wad of gum in his mouth. The packaging has since undergone several changes, with the introduction of new designs and packaging materials. In recent years, the brand has adopted a more minimalist design, with a simple logo and a solid-colored background.

Flavor Variations and Additions

The original Big League Chew flavor was bubble gum, but the brand has since introduced several new flavors, including grape, watermelon, and sour apple. In addition to new flavors, the brand has also introduced new products, such as Big League Chew Gumballs and Big League Chew Pops.

Overall, the brand has remained true to its roots as a fun and flavorful gum brand that caters to baseball fans of all ages. With its continued innovation and commitment to quality, Big League Chew is sure to remain a beloved brand for years to come.

Cultural Impact

Influence on Baseball Culture

Since its introduction in 1980, Big League Chew gum has become an iconic part of baseball culture. The shredded bubble gum was initially created as a healthier alternative to chewing tobacco, which was a common practice among baseball players at the time. Big League Chew gum quickly gained popularity among players and fans alike, and it is now a staple in baseball dugouts and stadiums.

The gum’s association with baseball has led to its use in various baseball-themed events and promotions. For example, Big League Chew has sponsored several minor league baseball teams and has been featured in baseball video games. The gum has also been used as a fundraising tool for youth baseball teams, with a portion of the proceeds from sales going towards supporting the sport.

Popularity Beyond Baseball

While Big League Chew is primarily associated with baseball, its popularity extends beyond the sport. The gum has become a cultural icon in its own right and is recognized by people of all ages. Its unique shredded texture and packaging have made it a favorite among children and adults alike.

In recent years, the gum has been featured in various media, including movies, TV shows, and music videos. This exposure has helped to cement its status as a pop culture icon. Additionally, Big League Chew has expanded its product line to include various flavors and packaging options, further solidifying its place in the gum market.

Overall, Big League Chew gum has had a significant cultural impact since its introduction over 40 years ago. Its association with baseball has made it a beloved part of the sport, while its unique packaging and flavors have made it a pop culture icon.

Marketing Strategies

Advertising Campaigns

Big League Chew has always been marketed towards young baseball players and fans. In the 1980s, the company released a series of commercials featuring professional baseball players, which helped to establish the brand as the go-to gum for baseball players. The commercials emphasized the fun and excitement of baseball, and positioned Big League Chew as an essential part of the game.

In the early 2000s, the company shifted its advertising focus to a younger demographic. The new commercials featured a character named Clyde, who was portrayed as a cool and trendy teenager. The ads emphasized the stylishness of the gum, and positioned it as a fun accessory for young people.

Sponsorship and Partnerships

Big League Chew has also been involved in a number of sponsorship and partnership deals over the years. In the 1990s, the company partnered with Little League Baseball to become the official gum of the organization. This partnership helped to solidify the brand’s position as the go-to gum for young baseball players.

In recent years, Big League Chew has continued to partner with baseball organizations and events. In 2019, the company became an official partner of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The partnership included a special exhibit on the history of Big League Chew, which helped to raise awareness of the brand among baseball fans of all ages. Additionally, the company has sponsored a number of minor league baseball teams, further establishing its connection to the sport.

Production and Ingredients

Manufacturing Process

Big League Chew is a bubble gum brand that was first introduced in 1980. Since then, it has become a popular chewing gum among baseball players and fans alike. The manufacturing process of Big League Chew is straightforward and simple. The gum is made by mixing sugar, corn syrup, and gum base. The mixture is then heated and extruded into long ropes. The ropes are then cut into small pieces and packaged into pouches.

Ingredient List and Nutritional Info

Big League Chew is made with simple ingredients that include sugar, corn syrup, gum base, citric acid, glycerol, natural and artificial flavors, and colors. The gum is gluten-free and contains no fat or protein. A single serving of Big League Chew, which is one pouch, contains 20 calories, 5 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains a small amount of sodium and potassium.

Overall, Big League Chew is a simple and tasty bubble gum that is loved by many. Its simple manufacturing process and natural ingredients make it a healthy alternative to other chewing gum brands.

Business Milestones

Sales Milestones

Since its founding in the 1970s, Big League Chew has become one of the most recognizable brands of bubble gum in the United States. The gum’s popularity has led to impressive sales milestones over the years. In 2017, Big League Chew reached $18 million in sales, a testament to the product’s enduring appeal.

One of the reasons for Big League Chew’s success is its ability to tap into the nostalgia of baseball fans. The gum’s shredded texture and pouch packaging are reminiscent of chewing tobacco, a product that was once ubiquitous in baseball dugouts. By offering a safer, non-tobacco alternative, Big League Chew has carved out a unique niche in the chewing gum market.

Company Acquisitions and Ownership

Big League Chew was originally created by former minor league pitcher Rob Nelson and bat boy Todd Field. The two men later sold the company to Wrigley, which was eventually acquired by Mars, Incorporated. Today, Big League Chew is owned by Ford Gum & Machine Company, Inc., a family-owned business based in Illinois.

Despite changing ownership over the years, Big League Chew has remained a beloved brand among baseball fans and gum enthusiasts alike. The gum’s distinctive packaging and flavors continue to make it a standout product on store shelves.