1940s Swann's Spearmint Chewing Gum advertising poster

1940s Swann's Spearmint Chewing Gum advertising poster, from the MOFBA collection
1940s Swann's Spearmint Chewing Gum advertising poster, from the MOFBA collection
1934 newspaper ad for Swann's Spearming Chewing Gum
1934 newspaper ad for Swann's Spearming Chewing Gum

First launched in 1934 the brand was produced and advertised by the O.C. Swann Chewing Gum Co. in Shanghai and distributed by Linson & Company as sole agents.

 

It is unknown who exactly was behind O.C. Swann Co. (Chinese name 大通行) together with deputy director Lin Meibin (林梅宾), but the inspiration for their product was undoubtedly of questionable origin: the design and color scheme evidently bore a striking resemblance to that of American chewing gum pioneer Wrigley's.

 

The knock-off brand was not left unnoticed and immediately in 1934 famous "Shanghai Lawyer" Norwood F. Allman filed a trademark objection on behalf of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. as records from the Chinese "Trademark Bulletin" (商标公报) show. The initial complaint was rejected in 1935 but an additional appeals were filed in 1936 and again in 1940 followed by a lawsuit in 1941, which all temporarily disallowed Swann's the sale of its chewing gum. (Original documents below)

Ca. 1960 Shanghai Goose brand chewing gum wrapping paper
Ca. 1960 Shanghai Goose brand chewing gum wrapping paper

But the Swann's brand resurfaced again after the turmoil of the war in the mid-1940s. Now produced by the Tianxing Candy and Biscuit Factory (天星糖果饼干厂) founded by Lin Meibin, the design and English name were continued but in Chinese it was, curiously enough, marketed as “Goose brand” (鹅牌). After the Communist liberation the factory was nationalized and eventually became the Shanghai Children's Food Factory (上海儿童食品厂). The Goose brand chewing gum continued to be produced well into the 1960s until it eventually fell out of favor.  


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