Seeds of a Green Idea
In 1992, educator Deborah Schimberg and her family traveled to Northern Guatemala. There they visited an economically depressed, chicle-producing community and learned about chicle, the sap of the sapodilla trees that grow in the rainforests of Central America. Up until then, they had never really thought about how chewing gum was made— or what gave it chewy texture. They were surprised to hear that chicle had once been the basis of the entire chewing gum industry. When synthetic resins became the norm in the 1940s and ‘50s, the market for chicle diminished. And that’s a shame, because the harvest of chicle is sustainable and benefits both rainforest conservation and the local economy in forest regions.
Crafting in the Kitchen
Upon their return to the States, Deborah and her children experimented with this sticky tree sap in their kitchen. By tweaking a traditional formula and adding confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, and flavoring, they found a way to create homemade chewing gum. With hopes of building a new market for chicle and educating folks about it, Deborah founded Verve, Inc. and began commercially producing a Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit for kids.
The Gum Kit stuck! In fact, folks liked the results of the Gum Kit so much that Deborah decided to make it into a brand of gum—Glee Gum. Two more DIY Candy Kits and multiple flavors of Glee Gum later, Verve remains dedicating to providing a sustainable source of income for chicle-producing communities. At the same time, we’re committed to offering fun, educational, and eco-friendly products. Our pioneering Candy Kits have captivated the imaginations of thousands of children while helping them to learn more about the world around them. We’re proud to say that our Glee Gum is chewed throughout North America and beyond. And our new Glee Gum Pops are starting to “pop up” all over!
Investing in a Greener Future
A dedicated member of Green America, Verve is also a proud partner of Trees for the Future, helping to improve the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by revitalizing degraded lands. To empower the next generation, Verve also supports the Cloud Forest School, a bilingual school with an environmental focus in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and the Maya Intercultural University of Quintana Roo, a public university dedicated to social and economic development in the region of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan. To learn more, please feel free to check out our Mission and Affiliations.
Thanks for Reading… and for Chewing!