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Zapote or chicozapote are the common names of the tree from which chicle, the chewing gum resin, is extracted.

No one knows if the ancient Maya chewed gum (chicle), but pre-Hispanic evidence suggests the Mexicas—also known as Aztecs—once did.  Women and young folks chewed gum to clean their teeth.

Legend has it that the American James Adams got his idea for chewing gum by watching Mexico's President Santa Ana chewing on chicle. Adams decided to sell it sweetened and flavored and Adams chewing gum made him a millionaire.

Chicozapote is one of the most common trees in the jungles of Mesoamerica, There are up to 30 species in some areas. Chicozapote grows in the  jungles of eastern Nicaragua and to the great tracts of tropical forest that cover parts of Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatán Peninsula of México.

The number of chicozapote trees located near almost every ancient city suggests that the Maya planted them there. The wood of the tree is very hard, so it is able to last for centuries. Five hundred years after being planted, zapote doors and woodwork are still visible in many ancient Mayan structures.

Chicle is harvested from July through February. Once a tree has been harvested — producing from 500 grams to two kilograms of latex—it should be left alone for up to five years or so, depending on the number of times it has been harvested.

It was not until the Second World War that gum became very popular. American soldiers started to chew gum to relieve tension. Chewing gum became very popular around the world.

In 1943, México exported nearly 9,000 tons of chicle to the United States, the largest amount in the industry's history. Today only a few companies were using real chicle in their gum