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Wrigley Company History

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William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago in the spring of 1891. He was 29 years old, had $32 in his pocket, and possessed unlimited energy and great talent as a salesman. He started out selling soap. As an extra incentive to merchants to carry Wrigley’s soap, he offered them free baking powder. When baking powder proved to be more popular than soap, he switched to the baking powder business. One day, Mr. Wrigley got the idea to offer merchants free chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The rest is history. In 2008 Wrigley merged with Mars.


William Wrigley Jr.’s motto: Even in Small Things, “Quality is Important”

William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago from Philadelphia in the spring of 1891. He was 29 years old, had $32 in his pocket and unlimited enthusiasm and energy. He also had great talent as a salesman.

Because his father was a soap manufacturer, Mr. Wrigley started his new business in Chicago selling Wrigley’s Scouring Soap. As an extra incentive to merchants, Mr. Wrigley offered premiums. He knew his customers would be more likely to carry Wrigley’s soap if they received a little “something for nothing.” One of these premiums was baking powder. When baking powder proved to be more popular than soap, he switched to the baking powder business.

Then, one day in 1892, Mr. Wrigley got the idea of offering two packages of chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The idea was a big success. Once again the premium – chewing gum – seemed more promising than the product it was promoting.

At that time, there were at least a dozen chewing gum companies in the United States, but the industry was relatively undeveloped. Mr. Wrigley realized that chewing gum was the product with the potential he had been looking for, so he began marketing it under his own name. His first two brands were called Lotta and Vassar. Juicy Fruit® gum came next in 1893, and Wrigley’s Spearmint® was introduced later that same year.

Getting a foothold in the chewing gum business was not easy. Several times the young company was on the verge of going under, but perseverance and hard work paid off, and the business forged ahead.

In the very early days, William Wrigley Jr. did much of the selling to the trade personally. He had a gift for seeing his customers’ point of view and accommodating himself to their needs. As the company grew, Mr. Wrigley also showed an unusual knack for inspiring enthusiasm in the people who worked with him.

Mr. Wrigley was one of the pioneers in the use of advertising to promote the sale of branded merchandise. He saw that consumer acceptance of Wrigley’s gum could be built faster by telling people about the benefits of the product through newspaper and magazine ads, outdoor posters and other forms of advertising. As more and more consumers began to ask for and buy Wrigley’s chewing gum in the stores, the storekeeper naturally wanted to keep a sufficient stock of Wrigley brands on hand.

As the company continued to grow, it steadfastly applied a basic principle that we continue to live by today: “Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is important.”

Further milestones

In the first quarter of the 20th century first factories were established outside of the United States As the popularity of Wrigley’s gum spread, the company began to expand manufacturing to support its brands’ growth. The first factory established outside the United States was in Canada. It was followed by expansion into Australia (1915), Great Britain (1927) and New Zealand (1939). Wrigley continued expanding and now maintains 19 production facilities in: Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, India, Kenya, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Spain, Taiwan and the United States.

1920 began the construction of the famous Wrigley Building in Chicago

A symbol of Chicago featured in countless articles, books, films, and television programs, the Wrigley Building and its distinctive towers are an architectural favorite among Chicago’s residents and visitors. William Wrigley Jr., who wanted an impressive headquarters for his successful chewing gum company, was the first to build an office tower on the north side of the Chicago River. With completion of the Wrigley Building in 1924, he pioneered development of North Michigan Avenue, which has become Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile”.

1944, World War II

During World War II, company president Philip Wrigley led an unusual move to support U.S. troops and protect the reputation of the company’s brands. Because of wartime rationing, Wrigley could not make enough top-quality gum for everyone. So rather than compromise the high quality that people expected, the company took Wrigley’s Spearmint®, Doublemint® and Juicy Fruit® off the civilian market and dedicated the entire output of these brands to the U.S. Armed Forces. During its absence from the market, Philip Wrigley made sure the Wrigley brands stayed on the mind of consumers by running the “Remember this Wrapper” ad campaign.

In 1946 Wrigley’s Gum was reintroduced to the Civilian Market

After the end of World War II, Wrigley was again able to purchase the high-quality ingredients used in its established brands. Wrigley’s Spearmint® came back on the market in 1946. Juicy Fruit® followed later that same year, and Doublemint® reappeared in 1947. Though these brands had not been sold in the United States for two years, they quickly regained and then exceeded their pre-war popularity.

1961 – expansion

When William Wrigley succeeded his father, Philip, as president and CEO in 1961, he established a strategic direction of geographic expansion. During his 38-year tenure at the helm of the Wrigley Company, production facilities sprouted up in nine new countries and Wrigley brands became known worldwide. Quality Wrigley brands can now be found in more than 180 countries.

Juicy Fruit launches the use of UPC Bar Codes

On June 26, 1974, at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit was run through a hand-made laser scanner. The register rang up the sale – 67 cents. With that, a new, computerized era in supermarket shopping began. Since that first pack of gum, the ubiquitous black and white bar codes have helped track the sales of billions of items and speed many millions of shoppers on their way through the checkout line.

Aquisition of other brands

In April 2004, Wrigley acquired four great new brands and production operations from a Spanish producer of confectionery products geared toward kids, teens and adults. This acquisition added great tasting, high quality bubble gums, hard candies and lollipops to Wrigley’s increasingly diversified confectionery portfolio and expanded Wrigley’s business in Spain, India and China.

In June 2005, Wrigley added the Altoids®, Life Savers®, Creme Savers® and Sugus® brands to its expanding portfolio of confectionery products. This portfolio of confections, some more than a century old, indulge consumers in sweet, sour and minty flavors in a variety of formats. The acquisition added some of the most well-known and well-loved brands to Wrigley’s chewing gum portfolio and strengthened the Company’s foundation in the global confectionery marketplace.

Also in 2005 the Wrigley’s Global Innovation Center officially opens

With a design that supports creativity and collaboration, the Wrigley Global Innovation Center (GIC) is a critical part of accelerating the Wrigley vision. Located in Chicago, Illinois, the GIC incorporates best practices to provide a state-of-the-art facility that stimulates innovation in products, packaging and processes. From the latest technology and flexible workspace to the Winter Garden, the GIC is a global resource to support Wrigley’s future development.

A year later the Wrigley Science Institute (WSI) is established

A long-time champion of the oral health benefits of gum chewing, Wrigley formed the Wrigley Science Institute in 2006 to study other potential benefits of chewing. The first organization of its kind to study the benefits of gum, the WSI is investigating the effects of gum chewing on weight management, stress relief, and concentration, as well as oral health.


In February of 2008, Wrigley announced that it had achieved an ambitious aspiration by surpassing $5 billion in sales – delivering $5.4 billion in sales for the 2007 fiscal year. In recognition of this historic milestone, Wrigley donated $5 million to address critical global needs in the areas of youth development and environmental conservation. The International Youth Foundation – which prepares young people to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens – and Conservation International – which applies innovation in a wide range of disciplines to conserve the environment – each received a $2.5 million grant. Both organizations are working with the Wrigley Company Foundation to implement signature programs that will positively impact the global community, including a number of geographies where Wrigley has a strong business presence.

Merger with Mars in 2008

Wrigley becomes a Chicago, Illinois-headquartered subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated, a $27-billion, family-owned company that produces some of the world’s leading confectionery, food and petcare products and has growing beverage and health & nutrition businesses.

Led by Bill Wrigley, Jr., Chairman, and Duke Petrovich, President, Wrigley operates as a separate business segment, alongside the existing Mars business units of Chocolate, Pet Care, Food, Drinks and Symbioscience.

As part of the transaction, Mars transfers to the Wrigley subsidiary its global non-chocolate confectionery sugar brands that include Skittles®, Starburst®, Tunes®, Lockets®, Rondo®, Kenman®, Skwinkles® and Lucas® brands, as well as production facilities in Scoresby, Australia; Porici, Czech Republic; and Monterrey, Mexico.

Official Website: Mars Wrigley: Creating More Smiles One Piece at a Time | Mars, Incorporated

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