Chewing Gum

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Features, History

Gum, and Gum disposal, advertising on the 8th Avenue IND, via The Municipal Archives

In December 1939, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was at war – with chewing gum. The situation was one we would recognize today: the subway was stuck. With subterranean transit stalled and sticking in stations, the Mayor believed the answer was a full-scale assault on chewing gum. La Guardia led the charge against gum, urging New Yorkers to throw away their finished sticks, rather than sticking them to the city’s streets and subway stations. In true La Guardia fashion, he turned his crusade against sticky subways into a city-wide contest, soliciting catchy anti-gum slogans from the public. And in true New York fashion, the public responded with a variety of slogans, from the sweet to the sly, including “Don’t be Dumb, Park Your Gum” and “Shoot the Wad.”

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