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Carst and Walker

Did you know Chappies turns 70 this year?

Iconic SA bubblegum brand, Chappies, is turning 70 this year, and on this anniversary it is apt to know more of its origins.

Chappies was created in the late 1940s by Arthur Ginsburg. Ginsburg started working at the Chapelat Sweet Factory [nice article on more history], in Troyeville, east of Johannesburg’s CBD, in the mid-1930s after finishing high school, and became the company’s cost accountant while completing his BCom degree at Wits University.

After losing a major customer – and with a dire need to compete at scale – Ginsburg came up with a bubblegum brand named after the nickname of the factory.

Later, as head of marketing and sales, Ginsburg wanted to make the brand more appealing to children, and added the “Did You Know” facts printed on the inside of the wrapper of each piece of bubblegum to this day.

According to Chappies, the first set of facts were sourced from the “Three Wise Men” team on the quiz show “Test the Team”, which aired on what is now the SABC’s Springbok Radio between 1957 and 1980s.

The company later approached Ginsburg’s alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand, for lists of interesting facts. It is believed that between 5,000 and 6,000 facts were collected during this time.

According to Trushann Thomas, Mondelez South Africa category brand manager for gum, the latest additions for Did You Know facts came in 2012, through a national campaign asking people to submit their most fascinating facts.

“These were vetted for accuracy and 170 new facts were selected from over 50,000 entries.”

In the late 1970s Chappies held 90% of the market. It was about this time that Ginsberg and his partners sold to Cadbury’s, now owned by Mondelez – it was time to retire.

Ginsberg said that mothers “never forgave me” for creating a “sticky currency”. If shopkeepers needed to give a half a penny change, a Chappies gum was given instead. Chappies, too, became the generic term for bubble gum.

Chappies initially came in five flavours: lemon, orange, strawberry, cherry, and pineapple. 70 years later the remaining flavours are spearmint, assorted fruit, watermelon, grape, and cool cherry. 

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