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Archives On The Air 204: Soviet Chewing Gum—Lloyd Burlingham Papers

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Wikimedia Commons
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PEDRO gum wrapper. Photo by Stanislav Doronenko, Wikimedia Commons

In 1957 the communist government of Czechoslovakia approved the production of 29 tons of chewing gum for the first time. Gum was seen as a symbol of American decadence and the move was criticized by newspapers across the Soviet bloc.

The production of chewing gum was part of an effort by the Czech government to appease a restless populace.

The gum was called PEDRO and featured a boy wearing a sombrero. The gum fell out of favor when democracy was restored and imports again available.

In 2008 a Czech company began producing PEDRO gum again, capitalizing on nostalgia and the product's retro appeal.

Visit UW's American Heritage Center to learn more in the papers of Lloyd Burlingham, a former United States Foreign Service Information Officer.