The history of Jenkki

Jenkki – The Most Popular Chewing Gum in Finland for more than 60 Years

Fun and always in touch with the latest trends – that’s what springs to mind when you think of Jenkki. The brand has lived, grown and evolved with the Finnish people for more than 60 years. Jenkki is the first and most studied chewing gum with xylitol in the world. In the span of 60 years Jenkki has reached iconic status – to the Finns it is synonymous with the words “chewing gum”.

Created in Turku, Finland, by the Hellas company in 1951, Jenkki has become the best known chewing gum in Finland. The name, meaning “Yankee”, was chosen due the popularity of the United States in post-war Europe.

The original Jenkki was wrapped in shiny wax paper. Back then, chewing gum was seen as a fad and something only kids did, a filthy habit that could get you detention if you were caught chewing in school.

Adults told tales of gum gluing the chewers’ lips together, blocking their intestines, rotting their teeth and being bad for their concentration. Despite all this, Jenkki soon became the top-selling chewing gum and a favourite pf Finnish young people, who idolised the American lifestyle.

Jenkki made history in media on the 13 August 1957 when the Finnish advertising-funded Mainos-TV first started broadcasting commercials on television. Jenkki was one of the three clips shown on the very first commercial break. In the clip, an African-American boy scares away a lion by popping a chewing gum bubble. This generated a huge increase in sales for the “Neekeri Jenkki” brand.

The first collectible sets published with the gum came out in 1959. They carried the name of Buffalo Bill. Later, a cap-wearing boy by the name of “Paukku Pave” became a figurehead and an iconic symbol for the gum. In time his name evolved into its current form: Bubble Boy.

In 1964, young people around the world were consumed by Beatlemania. Jenkki followed the spirit of the times closely and a introduced a series of “signed” Beatles photos. To this day, it remains the best-selling Jenkki series of all time. Young people bought packages of gum to collect pictures of cars, comic book heroes, athletes and the conquest of space. All in all, there have been more than 70 different collectible series with approximately 100 cards in each.


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