NATURAL GUM CHICLE
Originally, chicle-natural chewing gum- is the milky juice, or latex of the “chicozapote”, found in the tropical forest of the Yucatán peninsula, Belice, and northern Guatemala. Today this region, which is the heart of the Mayan world and is known as the Gran Petén, has the second largest land surface covered with tropical rain forest on the American continent, the Amazonia ranking first.The chicozapote is the most abundant tree in the jungles of the Gran Petén. In some places it is possible to find over thirty trees in a single hectare. Chicozapotes sometimes reach a height of over 40 metres, with diameters of more than a meter. Chicle is collected from July to February, during the rainy season, when the latex flows better. With a sharp-edged machete, chicle collectors make zigzag cuts from the base of the tree trunk up to its first branches. The latex drips down these grooves and is collected in a bag. At present approximately 5,000 chicle collectors perform their arduous, artisanal work each season in the jungles of the Gran Petén. One of the main environmental problems faced destruction of tropical forest. The most widespread solution put into practice to curb this process has been to create natural parks and reserves where the utilization of the resources found there is usually prohibited. As an economic activity, chicle extraction is very important for the people who live in the Gran Petén. There, chicle collectors have become zealous guardians of schicozapote tree and its ecological setting. Through the consumption of natural chewing gum, a sustainable extractive activity is being promoted, helping to keep alive the jungles where the Mayan civilization once flourished.History tells us that in the second half of nineteenth century, an American by the name of James Adams noticed that the Mexican President Santa-Anna was chewing on some small pieces of chicle. Adams got the idea of launching small pieces of chicle with flavorings and sugar in the form of little balls on the U.S. market. His idea was a success, and chewing gum became extremely popular, although it wasn`t until the second world war that it spread to all the corners of the globe, thanks to U.S. soldiers.In the fifties, with the appeareance of synthetic gum made from polymers derived from oil, chicle extraction was reduced drastically, and only a few companies continued to use natural gum, mixing it with synthetic gum.But at least these companies kept the practice of chicle extraction going. Before the appearance of natural gum chicle there was no longer any kind of chewing gum made exclusively from natural chicle.