31 Dec
2016

Anyone besides me used to think that Chiclets were one of the neatest things invented?  I can’t even tell you why I think so…maybe it was because they were small and colorful.  They did taste good!.  I have to wonder if it wasn’t just a convenient distraction for a busy mom with kids.

An interesting history

The history of chewing gum is diverse across many cultures, as many separate people groups used chewing gum from various sources native to their lands.  The ancient Greeks chewed mastic tree bark, the ancient Mayans chewed chicle, the Eskimos chewed blubber, South Americans chewed coca leaves, the Chinese chewed ginseng roots, South Asians chewed betel nuts, the Native Americans chewed sugar pine and spruce sap, and early American settlers chewed tobacco leaves.

While chewing whale blubber sounds rather repulsive, the innate need to chew was satisfied in many different forms.  The first commercialized chewing gum was created in New England in 1848, called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.  Around 1850, a paraffin-based gum took over in popularity, that was sweetened by keeping a plate of powdered sugar close into which the chewed paraffin was repeatedly dipped.

The first flavored chewing gum was made in the 1860’s made with balsam tree extract and powdered sugar, named Taffy Tolu.  John Colgan, who invented the first flavored gum, also invented the first chicle-based gum and patented the “Chewing Gum Chip Forming Mac
hine” to cut chips of chewing gum from the chicle base.

Modern chewing gum arose when chicle came up to the U.S. from Mexico and landed in the hands of Thomas Adams.  After chicle failed to be a suitable rubber substitute, it instead made its debut as Adams New York Chewing Gum in 1871.  Black Jack, Chiclets and Wrigley’s gums all quickly became successful on the market.  Synthetic gums replaced chicle gums in the 1960’s, as chicle no longer lived up to chewing gum standards.

Health Benefits of Chewing Gum

The benefits of chewing gum can be both physical and psychological.  Physical benefits include decreasing stress, weight managment, improved digestion, and improved oral health.  Chewing gum may also improve memory and concentration, and improves wakefulness.

Chewing gum has been somewhat of a controvertial subject.  Dentists agree that if you chew gum often, choose a gum that is sugar free to avoid dental decay.  The ADA suggests that chewing gum may actually reduce plaque and prevent cavities because it stimulates saliva flow.

On the flip side, for those that have TMJ or other jaw disorders, chewing gum may cause irritation of the disorder and cause further problems.  I know that if I chew gum all the time, my jaw and face muscles begin to ache and sometimes even get a headache.  In short, use your better judgment and listen to your body.

What GMO Ingredients to Look For

Finding specifics about the ingredients in gum is like trying to find a state secret in the Pentagon.  Suffice it to say that there are several possibilities of GMO encounters in chewing gum that you will want to look out for.

The gum base of chewing gum is often made of resin, wax and elastomer.  Wax can be derived from a handful of different sources, including beeswax and vegetables.  Depending on what the bees have been eating, there may be GMO contaminates in beeswax, and vegetables are a potential source of genetic contamination.

Chewing gum softeners may include lecithin, hydrogenated vegetable oils, glycerol ester, lanolin, methyl ester, pentaerythritol ester, rice bran wax, stearic acid, sodium and potassium stearates.  Potential GMO contamination here would be the lecithin (derived from soy), hydrogenated vegetable oil and lanolin, since it is a wax secreted by the skin of wool-bearing animals and what they eat, they excrete.

All of this is not to include the artificial sweeteners and colors and plastic-like materials that contribute to the unknown health consequences of what we put in our mouth.

Where to find Non-GMO Chewing Gum??

Visit my blog to find Non-GMO Chewing Gum!

Why do YOU chew gum?

 

 

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