From his dad’s soap to a chewing gum empire

From scouring soap to chewing gum.

William Wrigley Jr. started selling his father’s product, Wrigley’s Scouring Soap, as a teenager. In 1891, at 29 years old, he moved from Philly to Chicago and began offering customers a free can of baking powder with every purchase.

A magnifying glass hovers over a green pack of Wrigley’s gum against a purple background.
  • When customers preferred the baking powder to the soap, he began offering baking powder with free gum.
  • When customers again preferred the extra incentive, he pivoted to gum, launching two flavors — Spearmint and Juicy Fruit — in 1893.

Through heavy advertising across media and billboards, the Wrigley Co. grew to a $1m+ brand by 1908. One hundred years later, Mars Inc. paid $23B to acquire Wrigley (financed in part by Warren Buffett, whose earliest business was hawking Juicy Fruit at age 6).

It was a good deal: Today, Mars generates $50B in annual revenue.

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