Today you will not surprise anyone with chewing gum: it is available literally on every corner with different tastes, aromas, shapes in bright packages. However, there were times when chewing gum was in short supply in our country. In the 70s, the children of the USSR were seized by a boom in the "long-playing rubber": the eyes of the children lit up at the sight of a peer moving his jaws and blowing bubbles. Liners and wrappers have become collectibles, exchanges, and games.
I must say that the hobby for "chewing" was not encouraged. Pioneer organizations, Komsomol committees, and the administration of the educational institution were caught with Western goods. The conversation usually went about the bad influence of Western licentiousness, lack of culture and, worst of all, the dangers of chewing gum for health. A myth was spread about the formation of holes in the stomach from empty chewing. In the Soviet Union, chewing gum was not produced, and it appeared exclusively from abroad. Until one event happened, unfortunately, a tragic one.
In the spring of 1975, friendly matches of youth ice hockey teams between teams from the Soviet Union and Canada took place in Moscow. Canadian hockey players with 15-kilogram boxes of gum arrived in the country of socialism. Under the terms of the sponsor of the team "Barry Cup" - manufacturer of Wrigley gum, players were required to give away gum products for free.
Several matches passed without significant incidents. More than 4 thousand fans gathered for the third meeting of hockey players at the Sokolniki Sports Palace, most of whom were of school age. Rumors about generous gifts from foreigners have already spread among the guys, and they came for a tasty treat. Distribution of presents began after the end of the game, when the athletes went down to their buses. The records began to be thrown onto balconies where spectators crowded.
Many gifts did not reach their destination, but fell to the ground. The audience had no choice but to start going down. But no one thought that the lower exit would be closed ... The crush began. The people who were at the top were pressing on the lower ones, but instead of moving forward, there was a hard ramming ... Two dozen people died - 13 of them were children.
Our media did not write a single line about the tragic event. It was only known that the director of the Palace and the head of the district police department were sentenced to prison terms for irresponsibility and negligence. The tragedy was the impetus for the government's decision to start producing chewing gum in the USSR in order to prevent the "insanity" of young people.
The first plant appeared in Yerevan. It was 1976. Then a factory was opened in Rostov-on-Don (converted from pasta). First, the production of two types of gum was launched: fruit and mint. Gradually, the assortment became wider thanks to the appearance of workshops at the Rot Front candy factory.
One whole pack (five pieces) cost 60 kopecks. Over time, chewing gum could be purchased one at a time.
Only in 2013, a memorial plaque was erected at the Sokolniki stadium in memory of the tragic day (more than 30 years have passed). This really should not happen again!