William F. Semple

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William Finley Semple (1832-1923) was a dentist from Mount Vernon, Ohio, commonly referred to as the first person anywhere to patent a chewing gum. On December 28, 1869, Semple filed Patent No. 98,304 with the U.S. Commissioner of Patents. However, Amos Tyler of Toledo, Ohio, patented his chewing gum on July 27 of the same year.[1] John B. Curtis successfully sold his "State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum" in 1848, though he did not patent it.

Semple's gum was intended to clean the teeth and strengthen the chewer's jaw.[1] It was not a sweet treat; ingredients included chalk and powdered licorice root. Charcoal was also suggested as a "suitable" ingredient in the patent.

Patent No. 98,304[edit]

To all whom it may concern:

    Be it know that, I, WILLIAM F. SEMPLE, of Mount Vernon, county of Knox, and State of Ohio, have invented a new and improved Chewing-Gum; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description of the same.
    The nature of my invention consists in compounding with rubber, in any proportions, other suitable substances, so as to form not only an agreeable chewing-gum, but also, that from the scouring-properties of the same, it will subserve the purpose of a dentifrice. It is well known that rubber itself is too hard to be used as a chewing-gum, but in combination with non-adhesive earths may be rendered capable of kneading into any shape under the teeth.
    In the manufacture of this improved chewing-gum, no vulcanizing-process is employed. It is produced by simply dissolving the rubber in naphtha and alcohol, and when of the consistence of jelly, mixing with it prepared chalk, powdered licorice-root, or any other suitable material, in the desired proportions, and subsequently evaporating the solvents.
    I do not, however, confine myself to this method alone for the manufacture of the gum. For commercial purposes, other equally effectual processes maybe used for the uniting of the rubber with suitable substances. Instead of the solvents named, any other that will soften the rubber, without being offensive, may be employed, such as paraffine, spermaceti, wax, gums, resins, and the like. Any of the materials commonly used for the manufacture of dentifrices may be combined with the rubber, such as orris-root, myrrh, licorice-root, sugar, barytes, charcoal, &c.
    By the term "rubber," I wish to include the allied vegetable gums, which are ordinarily known as the equivalents of caoutchouc.
    Having thus fully described my invention,
    What I claim as new, and, desire to secure by Letters Patent, is—
    The combination of rubber with other articles, in any proportions adapted to the formation of an acceptable chewing-gum.



        C. MAGERS,
        T. V. PARKE.[2]


  1. ^ a b "William F. Semple". Ohio History Central (maintained by the Ohio Historical Society). Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  2. ^ Letters Patent No. 98,304. dated December 28, 1869.