Sunday 19 February 2017

Chewey Ooey

Chewing the gum off spruce trees may sound kind of gross today, but it was very, very popular before the 1860s.  When spruce trees get damaged they release sap to help cover the injury.  Initially the the resin is soft and sticky, however, the resin you want to chew takes at least two years to harden.  You take the resin right off the spruce tree and chew it, however, because it’s quite hard, you have to roll it around in your mouth for a bit to soften it up. 

The little barrel in this picture was used to store pieces of the spruce gum resin.  These types of barrel were made by Kings Co. lumbermen. This little barrel is about 5.5” high and a little over 3” wide.  It is covered in a brown shellac finish and has 6 black wooden bands around it.   The top is cut open halfway.

Once the introduction of commercial chewing gum came along in the mid-1860s, chewing spruce gum became just another piece of history.  I’ve read some blogs from people who say once you become accustomed to this taste you never go back to commercial chewing gum.  I’ve never tried it – if you have please leave a comment and tell us what your experience was like!  (1968.013)


  1. When I was a child, my father worked in lumber camps and was often home only on weekends. My siblings and I eagerly anticipated the spruce gum he brought home for us and all enjoyed the 'treat'. No doubt its an acquired taste as dulse is and it is one of the best memories of our childhood.

  2. Spruce gum chewing existed in my early years, and even later when I would look for that hardened blob. The taste is anything but sweet, but I don't recall that I disliked it. For old times' sake it would be worth a try again.

  3. Did any of you have the gum come home in these little barrels?