Where does Brooklyn Chewing Gum come from? The answer might surprise you.
Just after the end of the Second World War, Italy was hit by an obsession with American pop culture. As part of the Allied forces that helped end the Nazi occupation of Italy, US soldiers brought American chocolate, cigarettes and chewing gum with them to the peninsula. Gradually, Levi’s jeans and bags of potato chips were introduced to Italy, but the demand for one product in particular grew exponentially: chewing gum.
To meet the growing demand, Brooklyn Chewing Gum was born. Contrary to what you might think, Brooklyn Chewing Gum wasn’t headquartered in Brooklyn, nor was it located in Southern Italy (where most of the Italian immigrants to New York came from), instead it opened in Lainate, a small town near Milan.
Designed to give the chewing gum the captivating allure of America, the name Brooklyn was chosen from the famous New York bridge, which explains why the gum is also referred to as “la gomma del ponte” (the bridge gum). Now Italians could proudly claim their own “American” chewing gum.
But what made Brooklyn chewing gum one of the most popular chewing gums in Italy? In the beginning it had the same standard sugar-based composition as any other gum and came in two flavors. The power of Brooklyn probably comes from the fact that it is the first Made in Italy chewing gum. As such, the image of the Brooklyn Bridge has become an icon for generations of Italians as have the gum’s legendary commercials and successful bicycle sponsorships.
Today, Brooklyn Chewing Gum continues to be produced by Perfetti van Melle in Lainate, Italy. Many Italians when they find themselves needing to freshen up their breath after an espresso will grab a package of Brooklyn Chewing Gum from next to the cashier. Why? because in the end, Brooklyn is the magic American chewing gum that is completely Italian.