www.whyville.net Jan 31, 2010 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Chomp! All About Chewing Gum

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The scene is often repeated, maybe daily, in school hallways everywhere. You reach into your pocket and pull out a slender package with the purpose of warding off hunger or obtaining minty breath, and then they all ask, "Can I have a piece of gum?"

Chewing gum has become a part of our everyday lives, but have you ever stopped to think about the questions that small stick of gum holds? I am here to (hopefully) reveal some of these mysteries.

The first question that pops into my head is this: how is chewing gum made? Well, when I checked out this site, it gave me a neat, moving diagram* of the complete process that is used in making gum. The first step is melting the gum base, followed by adding powdered sugar, glucose syrup, flavoring and other ingredients. Next, machines called extruders blend, smooth, and form the gum. After the gum is molded in to the right shape (sticks, chunks, pellets, etc.), it is scattered with powdered sweetener. This prevents it from sticking to packaging or machinery. The gum then sets in a temperature controlled room for up to 48 hours. If the gum has a candy coat, then it is applied now. Machines then package the gum quickly in airtight containers, ensuring your gum is fresh, soft, and tasty.

"Spit that gum out!" the teacher barks at you. You silently think threats as you head to the trash can to spit out your precious gum. Oh, how you wish you could tell the teacher how great gum is for you, and thus force her/him to let you keep it! Well, lucky gum-chewers, I am here to give you the very thing you wish for: the benefits and profit of chewing gum.

1. Freshens Breathe: Did I really need to point that one out? I am sure your day is much improved when your friends don't run screaming in the other direction when they get a whiff of your morning breath.

2. Improves Concentration: The repeated act of chewing aids in concentrating, according to a study.

3. Eases Stress: Ever since 1939, studies show how gum relaxes you. The US Armed Forces even distribute gum to their soldiers!

4. Low-Calorie Snack: Fight those between-meal snack cravings with a healthy piece of gum.

5. Other Benefits: Certain types of gum have added benefits, such as whitening teeth and providing extra minerals and vitamins.

And now, the really interesting part: fun facts!

- In the US, there are more than 1,000 different types of gum sold.
- Turkey has the most gum manufacturers, with 60.
- Some of the more popular gum flavors are spearmint, peppermint, and cinnamon.
- Since it was the only color he had, the first inventor of bubble gum colored it pink. It remains a popular color today.
- The largest bubble ever blown was 23 inches, as of 1998.
- Nearly one and a half miles was the length of the largest gum wrapper chain.

It is time for the final gum question: "How do I get it out of my clothes/carpet/hair/hard surface?"

Clothing: First try scraping it off with a dull knife and rubbing it with an ice cube. If this does not work, freeze the article in question and then scrape of the gum with same dull knife.

Carpet: Try the same technique with the ice cube and knife. If it fails to work, heat the area with a blow dryer and rub with plastic sandwich bags. If this does not work also, cover up said area with a rug.

Hair: Substances such as citrus peel, mineral oil, cooking oil, and peanut butter will soften up the gum. Knead it into your hair and gently pull out the gum. Wash hair afterward.

Hard Surface: If scraping it won't work, try applying warm water with pressure, with or without cleaning sprays.

Well, folks, there you have it. Chewing gum's secrets have been revealed and hung out for all to see. So chew away, Whyvillians, for now you know all about gum, and have earned the right to chew it.

Ninjas and Dinosaurs,

Author's Note: Sources: www.gumassociation.org
* You can find the awesome diagram at this site, under the section "How gum is made". I pretended my mouse was a piece of gum that underwent the whole process.


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