Is Chewing Gum Made From Whale Fat?

chewing-gum-made-whale-fat Credit: Compassionate Eye Foundation/Rennie Solis/Taxi/Getty Images

Contrary to popular myths, chewing gum is not made from whale blubber, but is made from an artificial gum base that's a lot like rubber. The gum base is mixed with sweeteners and flavorings to make chewing gum.

Prior to World War II, chewing gum was made from the latex sap of the sapodilla tree, which is a tree that's native to Central America. The ancient Aztecs were the first to use this gum-like sap to stick objects together, although Aztec women used it as a freshener for the mouth. The sap is a form of rubber that will not dissolve. After World War II, artificial gum bases were developed and the sapodilla sap, which is known as chicle, fell out of popular use.

Chewing gum has been around in different forms for at least the past 5,000 years, as evidenced from tooth imprints in birch bark tar unearthed in Finland. In Ancient Greece, for example, the resin of the mastic tree was used to make chewing gum. Native Americans chewed resin derived from spruce tree sap, leading to the development of The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum in 1848, which was the first-ever commercially sold chewing gum. The first patent, however, was issued in 1869 for chewing gum made from paraffin wax.