The Spearmen are Dear Men, Buy Gum

Before the Doublemint Twins put Wrigley’s gum in America’s mouths and minds of gum-chewing millions, the trade characters that most stuck as effective mnemonics were the Spearmen. These green arrow-point heads with human faces, arms and legs sticking through, were turn-of-the-century Gumbys, as popular as the Brownies and cute as the Kewpies.

wrigleys 1To market the chewy stuff, Wrigley’s marketers concieved the “Sprightly Spearmen” to be household pals, friendly li’l imps.

Chewing gum was viewed in social circles as rude (like chewing tobacco), and advertising agents were hired to alter perception. Instead of a vice, it was promoted as pick-me-up, a veritable snack for relief from stress. Even doctors lauded the benefits of chewing gum, going so far as to prescribe it for soothing throats and mouths, helping digestion, and quenching thirst. Wrigley’s admonished customers to chew after every meal.

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William Wrigley took his advertising promises to a level beyond the medicine. His Spearmen, used between the 1910s and 1920s, based on the spear or arrow introduced in 1893 on the Spearmint wrapper, were frolicking mascots who dispensed advice, entertained the senses and reminded the customers any time is a good time for a chew.

The pages featuring this gaggle of Spearmen, are from a modern-day, gummed up Mother Goose, filled with fractured rhymes and silly ripostes: “When is a tie a cravat? When it costs more than 99 cents.”

wrigleys 22 wrigleys 21 wrigleys 20 wrigleys 19 wrigleys 18 wrigleys 17 wrigleys 16 wrigleys 15 wrigleys 14 wrigleys 13 wrigleys 12 wrigleys 11 wrigleys 10 wrigleys 9 wrigleys 8 wrigleys 7 wrigleys 6 wrigleys 5 wrigleys 4 wrigleys 3 wrigleys 2 wrigleysFor more Steven Heller, check out The Education of an Illustrator‚ one of the many Heller titles available at

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