History Bytes: Common Sense Gum

October 30, 2018

Gum may not be your Halloween treat of choice, but it generates billions of dollars in sales each year. The first gum manufacturing factory in the United States was constructed in the 1850s by John Curtis in Maine. By the late 1800s the chewy treat had gained immense popularity and other business men like William Wrigley, Jr. took notice (Wrigley created Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint in 1893.) In 1908, a Boston company, Common Sense Gum, purchased land at the northern end of Third Street in Newport for the construction of a gum manufacturing company. The Common Sense Co. factory opened for business in 1912, producing Listerated Gum, a popular choice of WWI soldiers. By 1921 the Common Sense Co. had changed its name to Listerated Gum Corp, and was producing Orbit Listerated Gum. In 1925 the Wrigley company bought and closed the Listerated gum factory. L. P. Larson Jr. would make an unsuccessful go of producing gum in Newport in the 1930s. Unlike the long-lasting appeal of gum, Newport’s involvement in the manufacturing of gum was short lived.

Below, see an advertisement for Listerated Gum that appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, August 1915. Note the number 5 in the triangle, denoting the cost of the pack of gum. That symbol can still be found in the exterior brick work of the gum factory on Third Street.

common sense co. listerated gum

 NHS Collection, 2000.8.