“Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight? / If your mother says don’t chew it, do you swallow it in spite? / Can you catch it on your tonsils, can you heave it left and right? / Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight? “ – Lyrics to DOES YOUR CHEWING GUM LOSE ITS FLAVOUR ON THE BEDPOST OVERNIGHT? Based on the 1924 original by Ernest Hare & Billy Jones “Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? (Marty Bloom / Ernest Breuer / Billy Rose)
I’ve been working on a project to date Butterick patterns using information from old issues of the Delineator Magazine. There are over 430 bound copies of The Delineator in my local library, dating from 1900 to 1937, so my project will take a while – especially since I keep getting distracted by the advertisements at the back of each issue. The one above, for Wrigley’s Gum, appeared in The Delineator magazine in 1929. However, in 1930, the Wrigley Company changed from this cartoonish style of advertisement to ads that explained that…
“Only Cows Chew Cud”
If you watch a lot of old black and white movies, as I do, you’re familiar with the rude, gum-chewing waitress; the tough, blonde, gum-popping chorus-girl; the “here-comes-trouble” gum-snapping teenager – all stereotyped images of young women “from the wrong side of the tracks.” My mother, who was a teenager in 1920 [no, that’s not a typo] was sitting on the porch, chewing gum, when her favorite aunt came to call. The aunt beckoned her over and said, very sternly, “Helen, only cows chew cud.”
If your mother says, “Don’t chew it….”
My mother took this lesson very seriously. Thirty years later, I was still only allowed to chew gum in private, or in the dark at the movies.
In grammar school, when we sang, “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost over night?”, we thought it was a ‘kids’ song,’ like jump-rope jingles. We didn’t know that the original lyric was “Does the Spearmint lose its flavor…,” and it was written in 1924! Even in the 1950s, no one ever suggested that chewing gum was an elegant habit for adults. It wasn’t “ladylike.”
Making Chewing Gum Respectable
If chewing gum marked a woman as lower class, how could fashionable women be persuaded to buy it? In 1930, the Wrigley Company decided to tackle that problem with an advertising campaign that ran in fashion magazines. Here is the first of the series [I have divided it for better visibility]:
The model is not just pretty, she is clearly upper-class. She is elegant – no bleached blonde bob for her; her hair is dark and almost severe in style. She wears evening dress. She is poised, not peppy. And she’s advertising Wrigley’s Double Mint Gum.
Wrigley’s Double Mint: An Old Beauty Secret
The Listerine company had already discovered (i.e., publicised) a condition called “Halitosis”, launched an ad campaign to make people self-conscious about their breath, and sold millions of bottles of mouthwash in the 1920s. You might assume that mint flavored gum would also be publicized as a breath-freshener – and Spearmint’s popularity may have had something to do with hiding the smell of booze during Prohibition. But Wrigley’s decided to sell it as a beauty product:The text of this ad reads:
“What most excited the astonished Spaniards who first set foot in Mexico was not the glittering gorgeousness of Aztec civilization as much as the Aztec women’s seeming possession of the secret of perpetual youth.
“It was observed that Aztec women rarely lost their teeth and their lips stayed marvels of youthful loveliness even into old age. Could this signify that a woman is only as young as her lips? But how [sic] keep lips young?
“The Aztecs’ Beauty Secret was chewing Sapota gum (the same as in Wrigley’s). Chew Wrigley’s regularly each day. Keeps lips young by toning up muscles and preventing saggy wrinkles. Try Double Mint – it’s peppermint flavored.”
Chewing Gum Prevents Wrinkles?
Would you believe that chewing gum will prevent wrinkles? – just as it did for those Aztec beauties?
Sure enough, if you look down, next to the pack of gum, she is holding a cigarette.
Elegant People Chew Wrigley’s Gum – 1930s
In the following year, in addition to claiming that “Science is recommending Double Mint as the latest beauty aid,” [ad in Delineator, October 1931] the ad campaign linked chewing gum with a luxurious lifestyle, as in this advertisement showing a young woman leaving her mansion for a game of tennis: “Where Good Taste Prevails, Smart People Know the Zest for Fine Living and go in for all the good things of life. That is why it is smart to chew Wrigley’s…. Years of attractiveness added to a woman’s face.”
Five years later, Wrigley was still promoting the regular use of chewing gum as a beauty treatment.
The caption on this ad from 1936 says, “Your Beauty Shop gives you added charms. Go there every week. And, to help beautify the natural shape of your mouth and lips, enjoy Double Mint gum daily.”