- For songs called "Chewing Gum", see Chewing Gum (song)
is a type of confectionery
traditionally made of chicle
, a natural latex
product, or synthetic rubber
. 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 a combination of a water-insoluble phase, known as gum base
, and a water-soluble phase of sweeteners
and sometimes food coloring
Chewing gum, in various forms, has existed since at least the Neolithic period
. A 5,000 year old chewing gum with tooth imprints, made of birch bark
tar, has been found in Yli-Ii
. The bark tar of which the gums were made is believed to have antiseptic properties and other medicinal helpers. Later forms of chewing gums have been used in Ancient Greece
. The Greeks
chewed mastic gum
, made from the resin of the mastic tree
. Many other cultures
have chewed gum-like substances made from plants
, and resins
The American Indians
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
was imported from Mexico
for use as a rubber
subsititute. 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 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.
In 1848 John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.
In 1855 a group of left wing revolutionaries led by Benito Juárez and Ignacio Comonfort overthrew Mexican dictator Santa Anna, who fled back to Cuba. He then lived in exile in Cuba, the United States, Colombia, and St. Thomas. During his time in New York City he is credited as bringing the first shipments of chicle, the base of chewing gum, to the United States, but he failed to profit from this since his plan was to use the chicle to replace rubber in carriage tires, which was tried without success. The American assigned to aid Santa Anna while he was in the US, Thomas Adams, conducted experiments with the chicle and (re-)discovered its possible use as a confectionary chewing gum.
William Semple filed the first patent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.
Chewing gum is available in a wide variety of flavors, including mint, wintergreen, cinnamon and various types of fruit. 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 end of some types of lollipop, such as Charms Blow Pops.
- Center-filled gum - milk and candy- a colloquialism for candy-coated chewing 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 - 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, minerals and other stuffs.
- 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 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.
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. In 1935, an estimated 12,000 lbs was chewed in one month. Recent studies show chewing gum can also improve one's mood. 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.
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.
Although chewing gum is provided in the U.S. military MRE's, it is often strongly discouraged for a troop to be seen chewing gum while standing in formation.
Gum is included in Canadian Forces Individual Meal Packs as an aid to oral hygiene.
Recaldent chewing gum was introduced into New Zealand Defence Force ration packs May 2007 by New Zealand Defense Dental Services to aid oral health care for service personnel in the field. Research has shown that Recaldent gum aids remineralization to fight early tooth decay.
Chewing gum also aids in relief of stress.
Possible health risk
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. Currently the ingredient can be hidden in the catch-all term "gum base".
Ancient Mayans utilized a gum base, chicle, for making a gum-like substance. Despite the ingredients (aromatic tar and smashed insect grease), the Mayans utilized this gum extensively. Women in particular used this gum as a mouth freshener. Also, the Florentine Codex included text referring to the use of chicle by women.
Chewing gum ban in Singapore