Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome to the Big Leagues Chew

During his comeback to baseball with the Atlanta Braves in 1978, Jim Bouton spent part of the 1977 season with the Portland Mavericks, an independent team in the Class A Northwest League. Sitting in the bullpen one night, Bouton watched his much younger teammates chewing tobacco. Fellow pitcher Rob Nelson said it was too bad they didn't make gum that looked like chewing tobacco.
After the season ended Bouton called Nelson and offered to put up the money and help sell the idea. They made a great team. Bouton designed a pouch, Nelson made gum in a frying pan and they chopped it up, stuffed it in pouches and showed it to the major gum companies, who all said the same thing. "That's interesting, but we don't make anything like that." Bouton and Nelson said, "Precisely!"
Finally, Amurol Products, a novelty gum company in Illinois, introduced Big League Chew in 1980. In the first twelve months Amurol sold $18 million at wholesale.

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