Located under Pikes Pike Public Market on Post Alley, in Downtown Seattle, Washington you will find a walkway full of bubblegum!

Post Alley is decorated on both sides with gum left by chewers!

Parts of the gum coating alongside the walls are several inches thick, and the coating is 15 feet high and about a 50 feet long. The Market Theater Gum Wall has become a tourist attraction and local landmark since it was unintentionally created in the 1990s. (Wikipedia)

Lots of gum!

Since 1999, it has become one of the most recognizable tourist destinations in the Pike Place Market area and receives thousands of visitors annually. Visitors regularly add new gum to the wall. In 2015, the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority removed all the gum from the wall and steam-cleaned it in order to prevent the degradation of the brick. 2,350 lb (1,070 kg) of gum were removed.[5] Visitors and local residents soon added a new layer of gum to the wall immediately after the cleanup was completed, and gum has continued to accumulate. It was named one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009. It took 130 hours to completely remove the gum,[17] with over 2,350 pounds (1,070 kg) of gum removed and disposed of.[18][19] Some believe the gum encourages littering. A few local restaurants and bars complained that gum was being tracked in to their businesses.

The gum wall is an example of participatory art and conceptual art.

What a wonderful site to see! Gum of all sizes, shapes an colors. People were adding their contribution to the wall as I was admiring it! Bubblegum was everywhere. Can you imagine a child’s delight when they are told about this wall and they were going to have a chance to see it!

It is a challenge to photograph the wall; between the lighting and all the people. It would take several trips during different times of the day to find the right lighting along with the fewest people. I did not have a enough time to make several visits.

The alley is shaded in light.
The lighting is challenging.

I wanted to find out when chewing gum became popular. More specifically, was chewing gum around during biblical times? In fact it was!! Who knew?In ancient Greece the chewing gum precursor was the bark from the Mastic tree. The ancient Greeks chewed a substance called mastiche to freshen their breath which is derived from the bark. Gum & Your Teeth: The History of GumDr. Jacquie Monroe Ortho

Mastic gum has antiseptic properties and may have contributed to better health.

The Encyclopedia of the Bible says this about GUM: (נְכֹאת׃֙; LXX θυμίαμα, G2592, incense) KJV SPICERY (Gen 37:25); KJV, SPICES (Gen 43:11). A gummy or resinous substance used as incense. It is the product of the Astragalus tragacantha, a fair sized shrub with small pale yellow blossoms. It grows over a wide area in Pal. and the Near E. The gum is gathered by rubbing the plant with a ball of cotton. This gum was one of the goods carried to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders who bought Joseph (Gen 37:25). It was also among the “choice fruits” of S Pal. sent by Jacob to Joseph in Egypt (Gen 43:11). All the Plants of the Bible, (n.d.), 194.

Basically, gum is a vegetable secretion of many trees or plants that hardens when it exudes, but is soluble in water. Frankincense and myrrh were gums from different plants.

Put your gum here!

Although chewing gum can be traced back to civilizations worldwide, the modernization and commercialization of this product mainly took place in the United States. The American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees.[11] The New England settlers picked up this practice, and in 1848, John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum. In this way, the industrializing West, having forgotten about tree gums, rediscovered chewing gum through the First Americans. Around 1850 a gum made from paraffin wax, a petroleum product, was developed and soon exceeded the spruce gum in popularity. To sweeten these early gums, the chewer would often make use of a plate of powdered sugar, which they would repeatedly dip the gum in to maintain sweetness.[12]

Lots and lots of gum!

The cultural tradition of chewing gum seems to have developed through a convergent evolution process, as traces of this habit have arisen separately in many early civilizations. Each early precursor to chewing gum was derived from natural growths local to the region and was chewed purely out of the instinctual desire to masticate. Early chewers did not necessarily desire to derive nutritional benefits from their chewable substances but at times sought taste stimuli and teeth cleaning or breath-freshening capabilities. Fenimore, EL (2008). “The History of Chewing Gum, 1849–2004”. In Fritz, D (ed.). Formulation and Production of Chewing and Bubble Gum. Essex: Kennedy’s Publications Ltd. pp. 1–46. ISBN 9780955808524.

Chewing gum gained worldwide popularity through American GIs in WWII, who were supplied chewing gum as a ration and traded it with locals. I don’t think chewing gum is as popular now as it was when I was growing up!

So now you know a-bit about chewing gum and that there is a wall that you can leave your gum on for prosperity!

Post Alley


[5] “Seattle’s gum wall cleaned for first time in 20 years”

[12] “Flavoring Chewing Gum | Chemical & Engineering News”

[17] DeMay, Daniel (November 16, 2015). “Gum wall not clean for long”. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

[18] Bush, Evan (November 10, 2015). “Gum wall gets naked in early-morning steam cleaning”. The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on December 13, 2015.

[19] Bush, Evan (November 16, 2015). “Seattle gum-wall time-lapse: Watch ton of gum disappear in a minute”. The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on December 13, 2015.

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