Big League Chew: Portland's 'Maverick' gum for 35 years - KPTV - FOX 12

Big League Chew: Portland's 'Maverick' gum for 35 years

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Big League Chew, the bubble gum brand famous for its shredded pieces and flavors like 'Outta Here Original,' 'Curve Ball Cotton Candy' and 'Ground Ball Grape' has its origins with a short-lived professional baseball team in Portland.

More than 600 million pouches of Big League Chew have been sold since it first hit store shelves 35 years ago.

The gum was the brainchild of two baseball players, Rob Nelson and Jim Bouton.

Nelson and Bouton played for the Portland Mavericks, an independent professional baseball team that played at Civic Stadium, now known as Providence Park, for just five years.

According to Nelson, the idea behind the gum was to get players away from pouches of shredded tobacco in favor of pouches of shredded bubble gum.

So in 1977, Nelson and Bouton cooked up Big League Chew in a Mavericks batboy's mother's kitchen.

Then, in 1980, they sold the product to Wrigley Company on a modest three-year deal for production and distribution.

"The first year, they sold $18 million of Big League Chew," Nelson said. "To put that in perspective, the following year, the Wrigley Family sold the Chicago Cubs for just under $22 million."

Eventually Mars bought out Wrigley and Nelson bought out Bouton and then shopped Big League Chew to the tiny Ford Gum Company in Akron, New York, which still owns the brand today.

The Hillsboro Hops will honor the past with a Portland Mavericks night Aug. 20.

About 50 members of the old team will fly in from around the country.

The Hops will wear the Mavericks' red tops and fans exiting the stadium will get free pouches of Big League Chew.

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