The Story of Chiclets & Chicle Building

Local confectioner and entreprenuer William J. White is credited as the inventor of modern chewing gum. Mr. White visited Mexico, learned of chicle and brought it home to make Yucatan peppermint gum in his kitchen with Mrs. White.

The peppermint gum was so universally liked that he built Chicle Building in 1888 to manufacture Chiclets chewing gum. Chiclets are the original candy coated chewing gum. By 1896 Mr. White was manufacturing gum at full throttle. By 1900, he built a one-story addition to Chicle Building. Mr. White joined with other gum manufacturers to form American Chicle Company.

By 1905 William White was done in the gum business due to his lavish spending and lifestyle. In 1921, American Chicle Company moved to New York and gum ceased to be made in the Chicle Building.

From 1923 to 1989 a number of manufacturing and fabricating companies occupied Chicle Building, but none as historically significant as American Chicle Company.

The Chicle Building is the only surviving structure associated with the active business life of William White. His development of chicle-based gum was the foundation upon which the entire modern chewing gum industry was built. As such, it is an important reminder of Cleveland’s business and industrial past, and a tangible document of the City’s economic contribution to the nation.