Chewing gum: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Many types of North American chewing gum from 2009.

Chewing gum is a type of gum traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber known as polyisobutylene, which is a non-vulcanisable form of the butyl rubber (isoprene-isobutylene) used for inner tubes or to line tubeless tires. For reasons of economy and quality, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle. Chicle is nonetheless still the base of choice for some regional markets, such as in Japan.



Chewing gum in various forms has existed since at least the Neolithic period. 5,000 year old chewing gum with tooth imprints, made of birch bark tar, has been found in Kierikki, Yli-Ii, Finland. The bark tar of which the gums were made is believed to have antiseptic properties and other medicinal advantages.[1] The ancient Aztecs used chicle as a base for making a gum-like substance. Women in particular used this gum as a mouth freshener.

Forms of chewing gums were also used in Ancient Greece. The Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree.[2] Many other cultures have chewed gum-like substances made from plants, grasses, and resins.

The American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees. The New England settlers picked up this practice, and in the early 1880s attempts were made to commercially market spruce gum. Around 1850 a gum made from paraffin wax was developed and soon exceeded the spruce gum in popularity.

Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was exported from Mexico for use as a rubber substitute. Chicle did not succeed as a replacement for rubber, but as a gum it soon dominated the market. Chicle gum, and gum made from similar latexes, had a smoother and softer texture and held flavor better. Most chewing gum companies have since switched to synthetic gum bases because of their low price and availability. According to their website, Glee Gum is the last gum manufacturer in the United States to produce gum using all-natural chicle.[3]

In 1848, John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.

William Semple filed an early patent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.[4]


Chewing gum is available in a wide variety of flavors such as mint, wintergreen, cinnamon and various types of fruits. Mintier flavors are often chewed for fresher breath. There is no standard type of gum, as it can be formed in many different shapes and sizes. Some examples include:

  • Gum balls - shaped like a ball and coated. These are most often sold in gum ball machines. In the United Kingdom, these are often referred to as 'Screwballs', as they are found at the bottom of a Screwball ice cream treat. In the US, they are known as "gum balls".
  • Bubblegum - formulated with film-forming characteristics for blowing bubbles.
  • Sugarfree gum - made with artificial sweeteners.
  • Candy & Gum combinations - predominantly bubblegum found in the center of some types of lollipop, such as Charms Blow Pops.
  • Center-filled gum - Pellet or ball gum formed around a soft or liquid centre.
  • Cut & Wrap gum - refers to the name of the machine that wraps this type of gum, usually in the form of a chunk, cube or cylindrical shape.
  • Dragée gum or "pellet gum" - a pillow-shaped coated pellet, often packed in blister packs.
  • Functional gum - a chewing gum with a practical function. Vibe Energy Gum, for example, uses gum as the delivery system for Caffeine, Ginseng, Guarana and Green Tea.
  • Medicated gum - a chewing gum acting as a delivery system to introduce medicinal substances into the saliva and thus into the bloodstream faster than pills.
  • Powdered gum - free-flowing powder form or powders compressed into unique shapes.
  • Stick gum - a rectangular, thin, flat, slab of gum.
  • Ribbon gum or tape gum - very similar to stick gum in shape, but much longer, coiled up in a cylindrical container often shaped like a hockey puck. The chewer tears off a piece of the desired size. (See Bubble Tape)
  • Tube gum or spaghetti gum - very soft bubble gum which can be squeezed from a tube or can be found in a pouch. (See Big League Chew)


The approximate manufacturing methods are fairly constant between brands. The gum base is melted at a temperature of about 115 °C (239 °F), until it has the viscosity of thick maple syrup, then filtered through a fine mesh screen. Then it is further refined by separating dissolved particles in a centrifuge, and further filtered. Clear base, still hot and melted, is then put into mixing vats. Other ingredients that may be added include: powdered sugar (the amount and grain size of which determines the brittleness of the resulting gum), corn syrup and/or glucose (which serve as humectants and coat the sugar particles to stabilize their suspension and keep the gum flexible), various softeners, food colourings, flavourings, preservatives and other additives.

The homogenized mixture is then poured onto cooling belts and cooled with cold air. Extrusion, optional rolling and cutting, and other mechanical shaping operations follow. The chunks of gum are then put aside to set for 24 to 48 hours.

Coated chewing gums then undergo other operations. The chunks are wrapped with optional undercoating for better binding with outer layers then are immersed into liquid sugar. The pellets are then coloured and coated with a suitable glazing agent, usually a wax. The coating/glazing/colour on gum is sometimes derived from animal-based sources such as resinous glaze derived from an insect or beeswax.

While gum was historically sweetened with cane sugar, xylitol, corn syrup or other natural sweeteners, a large number of brands now use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, or Acesulfame potassium. Non-coated varieties of gum are often covered in sweetened marble dust to prevent the wrapper from sticking to the product.

Use in military

The United States military have regularly supplied soldiers with chewing gum since World War I because it helped both to improve the soldiers' concentration and to relieve stress.[5] As of 2005, the U.S. military is sponsoring development of a chewing gum formulation with an antibacterial agent that could replace conventional oral hygiene methods in the battlefield. This product is not expected to be available for use for some time to come.[6]

Recently, the U.S. armed forces have been providing troops with caffeinated gum to keep soldiers alert for extended periods of time without experiencing fatigue or drowsiness. Each stick of gum has approximately 100 mg of caffeine in it, about the same amount in an average cup of coffee.[7] Although chewing gum is provided in the U.S. military MREs, it is often strongly discouraged for a troop to be seen chewing gum while standing in formation.

Recaldent chewing gum was introduced into New Zealand Defence Force ration packs in May 2007 by New Zealand Defence Dental Services to aid oral health care for service personnel in the field.

Effects on health

Dental health

Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol has been shown to reduce cavities and plaque by starving microorganisms in the mouth. The same effect has not been shown for the sweetener sorbitol. The addition of calcium lactate has been shown to increase recalcification. Chewing gum sweetened with sugar can have a negative effect on oral health, because it can degrade the enamel on teeth.

Possible carcinogens

Concern has arisen about the possible carcinogenicity of the vinyl acetate (acetic acid ethenyl ester) used by some manufacturers in their gum bases. The Canadian government has classified the ingredient as a "potentially high hazard substance."[8] Currently the ingredient can be hidden in the catch-all term "gum base".

Swallowed gum

One old wives' tale says that swallowed gum will remain in a human's stomach for up to seven years, as it is not digestible. According to several medical opinions, there seems to be little truth behind the tale. In most cases, swallowed gum will pass through the system as fast as any other food, but can be a little slower.[9] There have been a few cases where swallowing gum has required medical attention, but these cases are more or less related to chronic gum swallowers. One young boy swallowed several pieces each day and had to be hospitalized,[10] and another little girl required medical attention when she swallowed her gum and four coins, which got stuck together in her esophagus.[9] As long as the mass of gum is small enough to pass out of the stomach, it will likely pass out of the body easily.[citation needed]

Bans on chewing gum

Many schools do not allow chewing gum because students often dispose of it by sticking it to desks, chairs, floors, or similar flat surfaces.[citation needed]

However certain schools feel that disallowing it is the reason why students discretely dispose of it rather than use a wastebin so they do not get reprimanded.

Singapore also had a ban on chewing gum because it was not disposed of properly.[citation needed]


External links


Simple English

Chewing gum is a type of candy. It is either a soft and chewy substance or a hard substance that becomes soft when it is chewed. It is chewed by people for enjoyment. It is often flavored with artificial or natural sweeteners. It may or may not include sugar. Chewing it can help clean teeth. Many chewing gum products used today will include new and exotic flavors such as mint.

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