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Chewing gum is a type of confection 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 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:

  • Ball gum - 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".
  • Bubble gum - formulated with film-forming characteristics for blowing bubbles.
  • Sugarfree gum - made with artificial sweeteners.
  • Candy & Gum combinations - predominantly bubble gum 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.
  • Slab gum 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. Zoft Gum, for example, specializes in herbal chewing gum products using gum as the delivery system for vitamins and minerals among other substances.
  • 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 - 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.


The approximate manufacturing methods are fairly constant between brands. The gum base is melted at a temperature of about 115 °C(240 °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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] 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. Chewing gum also aids in relief of stress.[4]

Effects on health


As mentioned above, various health benefits have been demonstrated for chewing gum, but 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."[5] 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 digestable. 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.[6] 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,[7] and another little girl required medical attention when she swallowed her gum and four coins, which got stuck together in her oesophagus.[8] As long as the mass of gum is small enough to pass out of the stomach, it is unlikely they will experience any problems.

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. In addition, gum chewing sometimes makes an audible smacking noise, which is often quite loud in a silent classroom.

In Singapore, there is a country-wide ban of most types of chewing gum.

The consumption of chewing gum can also be discouraged by some doctors, because chewing it too frequently has been said to increase the production of stomach acid to abnormal levels over a long period of time.

Standardization of its products

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:





From to chew, + gum.


chewing gum

chewing gums

chewing gum (plural chewing gums)

  1. A sweetened flavoured preparation of chicle, made for chewing.



See also

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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