How William Wrigley Jr. found wealth in chewing gum

One September 30 in the year 1861, the founder of the largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum in the world was born in Pennsylvania, USA. His name was William Wrigley Jr., the founder of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.

William Wrigley Jr.
William Wrigley Jr. (Credit:

William Wrigley Jr. was the son of a soap manufacturer. For him, school was boring. So, as a boy, he went around the city of Philadelphia selling soap. Then he ran away from home to New York City only to return home after he couldn’t make ends meet in the big city. In 1891, he went to Chicago as a distributor of his father’s soap. To secure more customers, he offered a free gift of baking powder, called premium. When he found out that there was a great demand for baking powder, he shifted his focus to selling baking powder with chewing gum as the premium. Later, he changed strategy to focus on chewing gum after it became more popular than the baking powder.

In 1893, William Wrigley Jr. introduced the Wrigley’s Spearmint and the Juicy Fruit Gum which became an instant hit and now, two of the world’s most popular brands. In 1907, he launched a huge national advertising campaign and sales increased tremendously at a time of economic depression.

In 1911, William Wrigley Jr. established Wm Wrigley Company when he purchased the Zeno Manufacturing Company that made his chewing gum. He also added a new flavor, the popular Doublemint Gum. In the following years, he opened sales offices in Canada and China. In 1925, he turned over daily operational management to his son Philip but he remained chairman of the board.

William Wrigley Jr. died a multimillionaire in 1932 at the age of 70. He had a daughter and a son with his wife Ada. In 2008, the company was acquired by Mars, Inc. for $23 billion.


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