The ingredients in Wrigley's 5 Gum vary depending on the individual flavor, but the brand's primary ingredients usually include sorbitol, gum base, glycerol, and natural and artificial flavors. Secondary ingredients often include aspartame, acesulfame K, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, soy lecithin, BHT and artificial colors.
Before World War II, chewing gum was made by taking a rubbery latex sap from South America called chicle and combining it with sugar and flavor extracts. During the war, however, the Wrigley company was unable to continue sourcing its main ingredient. As a result, chicle was eventually replaced with the artificial gum bases that are still found in many brands of gum today. "Gum base" on a chewing gum ingredient list can indicate a combination of food-grade polymers, waxes and softeners, though manufacturers are not required to disclose additional components.
In addition to implementing synthetic gum bases, many brands have replaced natural sugars with artificial sweeteners and added synthetic preservatives for freshness. Aspartame is a sugar substitute commonly used to enhance flavor and prevent tooth decay. While generally considered by the FDA to be safe for human consumption, aspartame has been the subject of some controversy since its discovery in 1965. It must be avoided by people with phenylketonuria because it contains an amino acid they cannot properly metabolize.