Chewing gum

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Chewing gum
Chewing gum

Chewing gum is a type of confectionery which is designed to be chewed instead of swallowed. Traditionally, it was made of chicle, a natural latex product, although for reasons of economy and quality many modern chewing gums use petroleum-based polymers instead of chicle. Chicle is nonetheless still the base of choice for some regional markets, such as in Japan. Once chewing gum has been removed from the mouth it quickly becomes a troublesome substance known as congumerate.

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[edit] History

Chewing gum, in various forms, has existed since at least Ancient Greece. The Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree. Betel, a mild narcotic, has enjoyed popularity in India for millennia. 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 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 its 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.[1] 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 liberals 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 a 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 called it "Chiclets", which helped found the chewing gum industry. William Semple filed the first patent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.

[edit] Types

[edit] Composition and manufacture

Chewing gum is a combination of a water-insoluble phase, known as gum base, and a water-soluble phase of sweeteners, flavoring and sometimes food coloring.

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, and 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, whose amount and grain size determines the brittleness of the result, corn syrup and/or glucose which serve as humectants, coat the sugar particles and stabilize their suspension, and keep the gum flexible, various softeners, food colorings, flavorings, preservatives and other additives.

The homogenized mixture is then poured onto cooling belts, and cooled with cold air. Extrusion, optionally 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 immersed into liquid sugar. The pellets are then colored and coated with a suitable glazing agent, usually a wax.

Non-coated varieties are covered in sweetened marble dust to prevent the wrapper from sticking to the product.

[edit] Health claims

Chewing gum stuck to wall
Chewing gum stuck to wall

Early chewing gums were marketed partly as paliatives, using ingredients and flavors that people accepted as folk remedies: licorice to soothe the throat; clove for toothache; spearmint to settle the stomach and relieve bad breath.[2]

The Wrigley Science Institute suggests chewing gum can reduce cavities, aid in dieting, improve concentration, and relieve stress. [3]

Unusually for a confectionery, chewing gum does have some health benefits. While the sugar in chewing gum promotes tooth decay, studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum after meals may make tooth decay less likely. [4] Chewing gum containing xylitol probably inhibits the formation of cavities.[5] Sugar-free chewing gum stimulates saliva production, and chewing after eating helps to neutralize the effect of acids on the teeth.

Chewing gum has also been identified with improved memory. UK psychologists found that people who chewed throughout tests of both long-term and short-term memory produced significantly better scores than people who did not. But gum chewing did not boost memory-linked reaction times, used as a measure of attention. Subjects who chewed gum scored 25% higher than the control group on immediate word recall tests, and 36% higher on delayed word recall tests. Scientists point to three, non-mutually exclusive reasons, the simplest of which attributes the higher scores to the gum-chewers' increased heart rate (and, by extension, increased blood flow to the brain).[6]

The mechanical action of chewing gum can counteract the irritation caused by changes in air pressure during air travel.[7]

Some oral surgeons and orthodontists believe chewing gum can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joint, and recommend people not chew gum if they experience headaches, muscle fatigue, or pain in their jaw after doing so.

Some people chew gum to help them resist the urge to smoke.

Chewing gum litter (GUMPOX) has been tested and contains bacteria; a piece of gum can be discarded on the ground and while fresh will contain virus and over time continues to harvest bacteria. Micrococcus sedentarius

[edit] Gum and society

Chewing gum adheres firmly to concrete and other hard surfaces, and requires great effort to remove -- power washing is often required. It is not uncommon to see urban sidewalks and train platforms speckled with thousands of patches of dried, discarded gum. For this reason, the sale of chewing gum has been prohibited in Singapore since 1992. [8] Recently, however, some types of chewing gum (e.g., nicotine replacement gums) have been allowed under strictly monitored distribution. (See Chewing gum ban in Singapore)

An old wives' tale states that chewing gum, if swallowed, may take up to seven years to become fully digested, and that swallowing gum could also result in the substance becoming lodged in the esophagus. Chewing gum does resist complete digestion by the body; it is generally expelled like other foods in 95% of individuals, though relatively unchanged. [9] In rare cases, some individuals who have been known to swallow chewing-gum regularly and who are predisposed can unfortunately aid the growth of bezoars within their stomachs or intestines[citation needed].

In many American, British, Canadian, and Australian schools, chewing gum is prohibited and being caught using it may lead to disciplinary action. It is discouraged because many students do not throw the used gum away but stick it underneath their desks which results in time and resources being spent on cleaning up the used gum.

Some people find these features of chewing gum irritating:

  • Chewing gum with mouth open
  • Seeing people chewing continually without eating or swallowing. (Sometimes compared to a cow chewing its cud.)
  • The unclear distorted speech that results when people talk with chewing gum in their mouths, including when that speech is then subjected to more distortions, e.g. from being transmitted over a telephone or radio link.
  • The snapping noise some gum chewers make when small air bubbles are trapped in the gum and then popped by further chewing.
  • The 'squishing' noise from the vacuum between the gum and teeth being filled with air as the teeth open.
  • Smacking of the lips while chewing gum. As with other foods, this is considered annoying and rude in some cultures.

[edit] Gum in popular culture

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its film adaptations, there is a gum-addicted girl called Violet Beauregarde, who turned blue and swelled up into a blueberry after chewing a piece of Mr. Willy Wonka's chewing gum meal substitute. Her mother and father are very critical of her bad manners.

The British singer Lonnie Donegan achieved some success with his 1959 novelty song entitled Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's [sic] Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight?

Michael Jordan would often chew gum during basketball games because he believed that it helped him concentrate. It is now proven that chewing gum does help people concentrate. It also helps relieve stress.

Baron Davis was always seen chewing gum during a basketball game. He prefers the Juicy Fruit brand. And of course, the chief in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', who had not spoken throughout the film, uttered the immortal words 'Juicy Fruit' when offered a stick by Randall P McMurphy whilst they were waiting for their punishment after a midnight ward party.

Chewing gum is popular with American football coaches; the stereotypical image is of the ruminating coach standing at the sidelines with his arms crossed, motionless except for the regular rhythm of the jaw as he chews. Famous gum-chewing coaches include Bill Cowher and Mike Ditka, though there are many others.

In the episode 22 Short Films About Springfield of The Simpsons, Lisa Simpson's hair becomes covered in gum.

In the musical Chicago, one of the killers states the reason she killed her lover was because he popped his gum.

"Chewing Gum" is the name of a song by Chicago band, Smashing Pumpkins. It was a demo of the Adore recordings.

Dave Grohl, founder and lead singer of the Foo Fighters, chews gum while performing because he feels it keeps his mouth moist and his vocal chords fresh.

Chewing gum was featured in Sandy Skoglund's photo "germs are everywhere" as the germs that go unnoticed all around us.

Peter Criss, the drummer for rock band Kiss can always be seen chewing gum on their live DVDs. He chews gum during almost every performance, except for his live performance of Beth.

[edit] Gum and military

The U.S. Armed Forces have regularly supplied soldiers with chewing gum since World War I because it helped both to improve the soldiers' concentration and to relieve stress. Recent studies show chewing gum can also improve one's mood. As of 2005, the US military is sponsoring development of a chewing gum formulation with an antibacterial agent, which should be able to replace conventional oral hygiene methods in the battlefield. [10]

Recently the U.S. Armed Forces have been providing soldiers with caffeinated gum to keep soldiers alert for extended periods of time without experiencing fatigue or drowsiness. Each stick of gum has app. 100 mg of caffeine in it, which is about the same amount as in an average cup of coffee. [11]

[edit] Cleaning stuck gum

  • If gum is stuck in the hair, it can be (at least partially) removed with peanut butter or vegetable oil, also gum can be dissolved with various starches. An alternative method is to place ice into a bag and hold it on the affected area; the gum then can be peeled off. A small amount of gum may be carefully removed with a fine-toothed comb.
  • Gum on clothing can be put in the freezer and then scraped off. Remainders can be covered with a paper bag and ironed over.
  • Purified gasoline (not the kind used in automobiles, which contains additives) and ethanol dissolve gum, as probably do a lot of other solvents. When cleaning synthetic fabrics, one should test the solvent on an invisible part of the cloth to make sure the solvent doesn't dissolve, bleach, or otherwise destroy the fabric.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Glee Gum website
  2. ^ http://www.victoryseeds.com/candystore/gum_black_jack.html Black Jack Chewing Gum]
  3. ^ Chewing Gum and Consumer Wellness, from the Wrigley Science Institute
  4. ^ Nutritional Food, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  5. ^ Xylitol chewing gum and dental caries, by Tanzer JM
  6. ^ Chewing gum improves memory
  7. ^ Chewing Gum at H2G2
  8. ^ Singapore's chewing gum ban comes unstuck
  9. ^ The Seven Year Glitch at Snopes
  10. ^ Reach for your gum
  11. ^ Caffeine gum now in Army supply channels

[edit] External links