Somehow I missed this story when it was breaking news:
In 1994, Susan Montgomery Williams set a world record. Now, don’t you know her Mama’s proud of her? Susan won the bubble-gum-blowing championship with a bubble that was 23 inches in diameter. I have no idea how many sticks of gum she popped into her mouth to accomplish that feat, but I bet she looked like a cow chewing its cud.
Bless her heart; I hope that wasn’t the biggest accomplishment of Susan’s lifetime.
I don’t chew gum much anymore, but I might start again now that I know it’s tied to a prominent figure in Texas history. Granted, the connection to Texas is a bit roundabout, but that gum you chomp has a history that leads to my home state. Psst! People, I’m a storyteller so I can make all roads lead to Texas, if you give me enough time.
If you aren’t from Texas, it’s doubtful that you know much Texas history. You wouldn’t remember the Alamo if John Wayne hadn’t made a movie about it in 1960. If you aren’t from Texas, where our schools cram the glorious history of the Lone Star State down the throats of our students, that battle long ago means nothing to you. But, to Texans the battle of The Alamo is a symbol of freedom.
To refresh your memory, Texas was once a part of Mexico, but the “Texians” wanted to be independent (you have to excuse us for that, it’s obviously our heritage). The Texas Revolution began, and brave defenders of freedom, including Jim Bowie and Davie Crockett, came from all over the United States to help the Texians in their cause.
On March 6, 1836, a heinous fiend named General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led an enormous Mexican Army in battle against 183 brave Texians who were trapped in a little known Mission called the Alamo, in San Antonio. In brutal hand to hand combat, all of the Texians were slain and their bodies burned. The battle cry “Remember the Alamo,” helped the Texians rally to defend the cause and eventually freedom from Mexico was won.
You’re thinking, “What does that have to do with chewing gum?” Bear with me; that fellow Santa Anna is the connection.
Santa Anna was a one-legged opportunist who loved battle as much as he desired power. He fought on both sides of every battle of his day, trying to come out a winner. This Master of Macho became the dictator of Mexico, but was overthrown and was exiled.
Santa Anna stayed for a time with an entrepreneur named Thomas Adams in Staten IslandNew York. Rubber for tires and toys and boots was big business in that part of the 1800’s, but it was expensive. Santa Anna told Adams about a sticky substance called “chicle,” which was the sap of the sapodilla tree from South America. The people of Mexico chewed that sap, but making chewing gum wasn’t the plan.
Adams wanted to mix chicle with rubber to make a less expensive product. Santa Anna wanted to raise money to re-take Mexico, so he arranged for a shipment of a ton of chicle to Adams.
Neither plan worked.
Santa Anna later died penniless and powerless in 1876. Adams experimented with mixing chicle and rubber but they wouldn’t bond together. He planned on dumping the chicle in the river, but fate intervened.
At a general store, Adams noticed a little girl buying wax to chew. He remembered Santa Anna saying that people of Mexico chewed the chicle and a great idea was born.
Adams began selling the chicle packaged as gum, which eventually changed into the brand called Chiclets.
Now, if this has inspired you to slap a wad of gum in your mouth to replicate Susan’s great achievement, you should check out this website first. There is an art to blowing a big bubble.
Whatever you do, don’t try blowing big bubbles outside, or you will have to find out how to get gum out of your hair. Wouldn’t you know it, Susan sells a product that will get chewing gum out of anything, and the above website will tell you how to contact her.
When you chew that gum, remember not to get a bovine expression on your face, there just isn’t anything less appealing than that blank gum-chewing expression. Also remember that in pre-Colombian Aztec society, the prostitutes popped their gum to advertise their trade.
Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Momma proud.