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What is Chewing Gum?

By Nychole Price
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chewing gum is a product made from natural or artificial latex, or chicle, as well as natural and artificial flavoring, that never breaks down when chewed. This allows people to satisfy their oral fixations without eating or smoking. Although chicle provides the best flavor and texture of chewing gum, it is rarely used anymore, as one chicle tree only yields 35 ounces (one kilogram) of chicle every three to four years.

The first marketed chewing gum, called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum, was made and sold by John B. Curtis, in 1848. Gum was first patented in 1869 by William Semple. In 1892 the Wrigley chewing gum company was established by William Wrigley, Jr., who made popular such flavors as Juicy Fruit, Doublemint and Wrigley's Spearmint. Since then, gum has been made in various flavors.

Common flavors of gum include mint, wintergreen, cinnamon and other fruity flavors, of which all are available sugar-free. The regular varieties of chewing gum are sweetened with either cane sugar, corn syrup or dextrose. Sugar-free varieties are sweetened with saccharine, xylitol or aspartame. An average stick of gum is 79 percent sugar or artificial sweetener.

Chewing gum is simple to make at home. All you need is a microwaveable bowl, citric acid, corn syrup, powdered sugar, flavoring, glycerin and gum base. Popular flavorings are peppermint oil, cinnamon and vanilla. Most of these are sold at a regular grocers, except glycerin and gum base, which you can find at a craft store.

Stir together 1/3 cup (78.86 ml) of gum base, 1/4 tsp. (1.23 ml) citric acid, 1 tsp. (4.92 ml) glycerin and 2 Tbsp. (29.57 ml) corn syrup in the microwaveable bowl. Place in the microwave for a minute. While it is microwaving, spread powdered sugar on a cutting board, leaving an empty area in the center. Set aside some powdered sugar for dipping your finger.

Take out the gum base and stir in approximately 6 drops of flavoring. Empty the mixture from the bowl and drop it onto the cutting board. Knead it in the powdered sugar for at least 20 minutes. If your hands or the mixture feels sticky, add more powdered sugar. The longer it is kneaded, the stronger the gum will be.

Flatten the mixture out with a rolling pin. Roll the flattened gum base into the shape of a rope. Cut it into standard-sized pieces with kitchen shears. Use wax paper, cellophane or a plastic bag to store the gum when it is finished.

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Discussion Comments
By anon337460 — On Jun 05, 2013

I am doing a project on gum and this article has been extremely helpful.

By anon270063 — On May 21, 2012

I am doing a project and need to know how does gum get to stores? I know from shipping but how?

By MsClean — On Jun 13, 2011

@ellaferris - If you don't have a special gum removing kit then a jar of petroleum jelly works just as well. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and generously coat the entire area on and around the gum with the jelly.

Let it sit for several hours to soften or loosen the gum, then take a soft tipped spatula and begin scraping the gum away from the desk.

After you've removed all the gum then wipe the area clean with a warm soapy cloth to remove the petroleum jelly. This technique is what has worked for me in the past.

My sister has used WD-40 to lift gum before, but I think it dries quicker so you have to keep applying it until the gum has loosened enough to be removed. Good luck.

By ellafarris — On Jun 11, 2011

I was wondering if anyone knows how to remove chewing gum from schools desks. We don't allow chewing gum in school but somehow every year it always ends up on our desks.

By Markus — On Jun 10, 2011

As far as I remember my history of chewing gum (knowledge junkie, I'll admit it!), chewing gum was first patented back in 1869 by Thomas Adams if my memory serves me right. Adams was an inventor from New York and also the secretary to Mexican General Santa Ana.

Santa Ana introduced Adams to a Mexican plant he chewed on called chicle. Adams tried to invent rubber tires from chicle but he failed at every attempt. Through his frustrations he stuck a piece in his mouth and from that day on people came to enjoy the little chiclets we know and love today.

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