Chios Mastic Gum: My Story
I first tasted Chios Mastic Gum when I was eleven years old in a dusty area in front of a small shop on the corner of Zaimi and Karaiskaki streets in the Stavroupoli district of Thessaloniki. It was my first time in Greece and the atmosphere of the Greek summer and free life had a strong influence on me, even when I was a child...
Chios Mastic Gum - Have you tasted a unique natural chewing gum?
Among many other things, I loved chewing gum, and even in that respect I felt like I was in paradise in Greece. From home I knew Pedro, the more expensive Donald with a picture inside, and also fruit and mint slices packed in packs of five. And here, on every corner, dozens and maybe even hundreds of varieties and flavours! I went to the shop on the suburbs of Thessaloniki with my aunt just to try some more.
This is the gum that the ancient Greeks chewed
My aunt bought chewing gums and I had pockets full of ION chewing gum in bizarre flavours. I was about to go for the cherry-vanilla, but my aunt stopped me and told me to try something better and dropped a few yellowish gems from a small box onto my hand. "This is real chewing gum. It's called mastic." She said and probably because she knew how I devour myths, legends and stories about heroes, she added, "This is the gum that the Greeks chewed in antiquity."
Mastic gum stuck to my teeth at first. After a while I was able to chew it and I remember the strong taste that spilled in my mouth. I chewed, and my aunt went on telling me: about a mysterious place on a distant island where mastic flowed from the trees, about the miraculous healing powers of mastic gum and also about an evil sultan who appropriated all the mastic gum and the pirates who stole it from him.
To this day, I still can't accurately describe the taste of mastic gum. Is it woodsy, tree-y, fruity? But I didn't appreciate the taste or the stories much that day, and to my aunt's disappointment I was back to chewing Chiclets, ION, Wrigleys, Dubble Bubble, Hollywood...
And after 20 years?
But Auntie, do you know how successful your educational mission was in the end?! Do you know what a good promoter of the mastic gum you were? The memory of your gems and your stories is firmly fixed in my mind. So much so that after 20 years I longed to taste mastic gum again.
And it wasn't easy. Mastic gum wasn't easy to buy. But during my search for it, I found out that the mysterious island is called Chios, that mastic is a resin and that confectioners also use it as an ingredient. Eventually I managed to get a half-kilo bag from one of them.
The history of the Masticlife brand begins with that bag of mastic gum. In 2008, we signed an agreement with the Association of Mastic Gum Growers. We added:
- ELMA chewing gum
- and aunt's gems - raw tears of Chios mastic gum
From the Chios mastic gum that my aunt gave me and the same mastic gum that was chewed in antiquity.
- from the story of her father, the founder of Masticlife, recorded by Sonia Michailidou
- Editor's note - the use of raw mastic in the Greek cuisine can also be found in the recipe Ice cream.