Nurse giving candy to kids

Got some gum, chum?

From the early experimental ration on there was included a piece of chewing gum with each meal. Chewing gum was added for two reasons. While chewing, the mouth produces saliva which keeps the mouth moist and clean and it also stimulates digestion. As a side effect, chewing releases tension.

Early chewing gum (a)

Two candy coated chewing gum tablets wrapped in cellophane were sometimes used with the experimental K Rations. Due to the sugar rationing regular stick gum was used when the K Ration went into production.

Four flavors were accepted for the K Ration: Spearmint, Peppermint, Pepsin (Wintergreen) and Cinnamon.

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A Beeman's Pepsin flavered chewing gum from a late 1942 Supper unit.
(photo: 1944Supply)

First specifications dictated that the sugar coated chewing gum was to be packed with the other components inside the cellophane bag, except for the Spearmint. Sugar coated Spearmint still imparted the other components and was to be placed outside the bag.
Due to the sugar rationing, the sugar coated chewing gum was no longer produced and regular stick gum was substituted.

When included in the cellophane bag with the other components, it was found that the flavor of the chewing gum imparted the other components. To prevent this the gum was placed inside the inner carton, but not included inside the cellophane bag. These directions weren't always followed to the letter.

With the first procurement of the K Ration, commercially produced chewing gum was used. This was only the case with the earliest production run in 1942. The chewing gum had bright colored paper bands and were wrapped in aluminum foil laminated to paper. When the production problems were ironed out, the specifications instructed the use of dull wrapping for camouflage purposes.

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These peppermint chewing gum sticks came from a USAAF Parachute ration, illustrating the early war color band wrappings. (Photo: 1944Supply)

As soon the aluminum became a critical material, the wrapping changed to waxed or oil treated paper or cellophane and the paper band became a more dull colored design printed on brown paper to make it less conspicuous.

The use of waxed paper indeed indicates wartime production, this, however, does not means that all waxed paper wrapped chewing gum was used in the K Ration. Commercially produced chewing was, however, avialable to the service men through PX stores.

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Walla Walla chewing gum from an early 1942 Breakfast unit. (photo: 1944Supply)

The chewing gum that was included in the K Ration were manufactured by the Walla Walla Co. (usually 1942 K Rations), American Chicle Co, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Beech-Nut Packaging Co. and the Leaf Gum Co. (from 1943 on).

Early Wrigleys chewing gum

Another early type of stick gum used is Wrigley's Spearmint. Note that the printing is only in one color (green). Later a two color printing (green and red) was used by Wrigley's. (photo: 1944Supply)

Early gum in cellophane bag

An early Breakfast unit is shown here with the chewing gum sealed inside the cellophane bag. Later specifications were changed so that the chewing gum was placed outside the bag in order to prevent transfer of the spearmint flavor to the biscuits and other components. (photo: 1944Supply)

Specifications C.Q.D. #22F indeed notes that "commercial labeling of the gum wrapper is satisfactory", however, "the paper shall has a dull nonreflecting surface."
This means that the companies could use their own brand logo and design, but printed on brown paper.

chewing gum front

Above is shown several different types of chewing gum with their wrappers, the photo below shows the back. Shown is the tablet type (Dentyne), the two sugar coated tablets (P.K.), and the stick types.

chewing gum back

Three types of chewing gum were used with the K Ration: The tablet type, stick type and later the small candy coated tablets.

The tablet type was mainly the Dentyne brand produced by the American Chicle Company. The tablet size is that of used in commercial vending machines of that time.
The Chicle Co. is one of the earliest contracted packer of the K Ration and most of the early ration contain this Dentyne tablet. The size of this type of tablet is approximately 1 
3/4 by 7/8 inch and a little thicker than the stick type.


Two tablets of Dentyne chewing gum made by the Chicle company,one wrapped in aluminum foil (early), the other wrapped in waxed paper (late). Even earlier procurement used the commercially produced Dentyne gum that had a bright red design and aluminum foil wrapping.

Although early commercial gum was used, as mentioned above, the majority of the stick type gum had the brown paper band. The midwar production can be identified by the wax or oil paper, or cellophane wrapper. Aluminum foil was used again when the restrictions were lifted in 1944. The stick gum is about 2 7/8 inch long and 7/8 inch wide.

Wrigleys army ration cinnamon

Cinnamon flavored chewing gum made by Wrigley's for the US army.

leafmintgum ad

A well known manufacturer of the stick type gum is the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. This company was one of the packers who assembled the ration, hence those rations includes the Wrigley's gum.
Obviously Beech-Nut used their chewing gum when contracted as a packer of the K Ration. Other packing companies used all these chewing gum brands, sometimes different meal units were packed with different brands (or flavors).

The Leaf Gum Company was founded during the war and only produced chewing gum for use in army rations. After the war Leaf Gum Co. started producing gum for the commercial market.

Chiclets late war

The third variety are two small candy coated tablets packed together. These were included early 1945 in the K Ration. Most found are the Chiclets tablets. Two tablets were packed together in cellophane with the name printed in black.
It appears that the post war packages are colored green, red or yellow to indicate flavor.

A small brightly colored box with two candy coated Chiclets tablets was also included at the end of the war in the K Ration.
A small cardboard box containing two candy coated tablets produced by Beech-Nut called Beechies was also used with the K Ration. As with all wrappings in the K Ration this box has a dull colored design.

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A small box with two sugar coated tablets called "Beechies". This package was sealed with the other components inside the cellophane bag of a Dinner unit.
(photo: 1944Supply)

The bright colored K.P. candy coated chewing gum made by Wrigley's appeared to be included not earlier then the summer of 1945 with the K Ration, the ones found were included in a Dinner, the tablets were packaged with aluminum foil instead of the usual red paper wrapping.

dinnerKrat 1

Late war K.P.'s chewing gum tucked between the can (in its protective sleeve) and the package of cigarettes in a Dinner unit, mid 1945. (photo: 1944Supply)

When in 1945 the candy coated gum became available it was allowed to be included in the cellophane bag with the other components.

gum in bag

A package of twe candy coated Beechies gum is inside the cellophane bag with the other components of this 1945 Dinner unit. (photo: 1944Supply)