While it might sound hard to believe, the founder of the famous Wrigley company didn’t start out selling the gum that would turn his business into an industry giant. In fact, when William Wrigley Jr. started the Wrigley Company his product of choice was soap! Part of what makes the evolution of the Wrigleys brand still fascinating today is how their promotional food products went from bonus goods to industry trailblazers in a matter of short years.

wrigleys items

Wrigley Jr. got his first taste of salesmanship as a boy, vending soap produced by his father on the streets of Philadelphia. By the time he reached adulthood in 1891, William was a savvy salesman who knew how to get -and keep- a customer's attention.

wrigleys old logo

Using cans of baking powder as a promotional gift for his soap stockists, Wrigley Jr. increased visibility for his brand – with one unforeseen consequence. The baking powder ended up becoming more popular than the soap! Wrigley Jr. quickly adjusted the focus of his business to baking powder and bundled a new promotional item alongside it – Wrigley's gum.

How Wrigley's Promotional Gum Began

What began as a little treat for valued customers soon took Wrigley Jr.’s business by storm. People couldn’t get enough of Wrigley’s promotional gum packets.  By the time William’s son took over the business in 1932, gum had become the principal product of the Wrigley Company.


Wrigley Jr. knew how to utilise tip-on items as a salesman, but he also understood the value of quality promotional goods. By combining this knowledge with some serious adaptability, the Wrigley Company has overcome its soapy beginnings to produce some of the most diverse and recognisable products in the modern food industry.

History first seen on this website: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/6/12/family-business/long-path-success-five-famous-families-who-risked-everything-and

Blog Updated on 29/05/18: New images added and text refined.