Las month, student Sarah Pickin found a piece of "Neolithic chewing gum" on an archaeological dig in Oulu, Finland. The gum, a hunk of birch bark, was likely chewed 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. From the Associated Press:
"Most likely the lump was used as an antique kind of chewing gum," said Sami Viljamaa, an archaeologist who led the dig near Oulu, some 380 miles north of the capital, Helsinki. "But its main purpose was to fix things…"
The ancient Finnish habit of chewing gum surged in the 1980s when Finnish scientists discovered that gum containing xylitol, a natural sweetener found in plant tissue including birch trees, prevents tooth decay.
Link to Washington Post, Link to Kierikki Excavation press release