Aug272010

POSTED AT 02:09 PM

Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years, according to archaeologists, although our ancestors wouldn't recognize the flavored rubbery wads that we enjoy today.  Apparently the ancient Greeks chewed tree resin, Native Americans chewed spruce resin, and prehistoric people chewed lumps of tar--can you imagine the taste?  Their teeth must have been black too!  Modern gum began when the Mexican latex, called chicle was brought to New York City by Santa Ana in 1871.  Approximately 560,000 tons of chewing gum are produced each year (560,000 x 2000 = 1,120,000,000, or 1.12 billion pounds).  The amount of money spent on gum amounts to about $5 billion!  Americans chew about 1.8 pounds of gum per person per year.  There are many different flavors available, including bacon and meatball!
   
Apparently chewing gum can be good for people.  Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the production of saliva, which helps prevent cavities, and gum with xylitol has an extra cavity-fighting ingredient.  Some studies have even shown that chewing can help concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain by as much as 40%!  Fresh breath is an added plus, from which friends, family and neighbors also derive benefit.  Scientists are experimenting with adding vitamins, minerals and medicines to gum.  However, some negative side-effects can also occur.  Gum with sugar can contribute to cavities, but sugarless gums aren't all good either.  Some people develop diarrhea, flatulence (gas), and abdominal pain.  Excess chewing can lead to injury of the jaw and teeth.  Swallowing too much gum can result in an intestinal blockage, although a single piece every once in a while will pass right on through.  

The main problem with gum is its disposal, or lack thereof.  Students only have to put their hands underneath their desks to find discarded chewing gum, dubbed gumfitti or gumpox (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gumfitti.).  The main ingredient in gum is a mix of natural and synthetic (laboratory-made) gums, which are insoluble (don't dissolve) in water.  This is what makes gum very difficult to clean up.  (Continued below)
gum.jpg
Due to gumpox, chewing of gum for non-medicinal purposes is illegal in Singapore!  Groups of scientists have been working on how to clean up gumfitti and may have come up with a solution that involves the use of enzymes, which are naturally-occurring molecules that break down substances.  All living organisms produce enzymes, and enzymes are commonly used in laundry detergents and other cleaners, meat tenderizer, and contact lens cleaners.  Another solution is the recycling of used gum.  A British woman has invented Gumdrops (shown below), which she invented by first turning used gum into a foam and then extracting a polymer.  Gumdrops are used to collect used gum.  If you go to Six Flags in New Jersey, you can stick your used gum into one.  It is estimated that the Gumdrops placed in five United Kingdom locations could save Britains $300 million (American) per year in gum cleanup costs.

Just a reminder: Gum is not allowed at Littleton Middle School!  The reason is that it is found stuck in unpleasant places like the wall, inside drawers, under desks, and the water fountain.  You will be able to chew gum in school once you get to the high school!

GUMDROP_3

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Comments

 
  • Bridget Schofield

    Ms. Finnerty,
    This article was very interesting but I don't think that I would like bacon flavored gum! I enjoy chewing gum and the amount of gum Americans chew per year is amazing! I wouldn't want to live in Singapore (because of the gum law)! I think that gumdrops are a good idea and should be in more places. Great blog!
    -Bridget Schofield

    10/27/2010 3:42:45 PM
  • Brandon Ford

    Bacon and Meatball?! sounds, gross. I never would have thought that about five billion dollars were spent a year on chewing gum! When i think of gum, i would never think it could be good for you... But it can be, which is usefull because now i will get more sugar free gum! Making it so gum is not allowed in school makes sense, becaus people will dipose of it under desks, but i never new it would be illegal in places. Great research Ms. Finnerty, the article was very well organized and very interesting.

    10/27/2010 6:56:11 PM
  • Keaton Shoults

    I already new a lot about early gum and how it was made of chicle, but I had no idea that modern gum had any benefits at all. I do remember seeing xylitol on the label of ingredients in five gum. Also, when I was at Six Flags New Jersey about a month and a half ago i did see a red bucket thing that might have been a gumdrop. It is nice to know more about gum.

    10/28/2010 2:14:47 PM
  • Ben Sawosik

    I never knew that gum was around for so long! Some of that stuff sounds disgusting! Maby the tree resin tasted like maple syrup? I can't bieleve that even though gun is sugar free it can still cause so much damage and pain to your body. I don't chew gun often, but when I do, I stick with flavors that are ordinary like mint or fruity. I don't thin kI will ever try meatball because it sounds disgusting.FrownI think this blog was a very informative peice of writing.

    10/28/2010 3:23:42 PM
  • Joe DeVellis

    Mrs. Finnerty Bacon gum sounds gross. I have only tasted bacon gum once and it was gross it also makes your breath smells bad. I think that everyone sould stick to regular gum in stead of bacon.

    10/28/2010 5:34:42 PM
  • Casey Sherman

    I like to chew gum, but i don't think i would want to chew bacon and meatball gum. It's amazing how much gum Americans chew in one year! I think it is unsanitary where they put their gum after they are done chewing them. The gumdrops are a very good idea to have in public places, so other people don't have to pick up chewed gum. Adding vitamins, minerals and medicines to the gum sounds like a good idea until you hear some of the side- effects. Great blog Ms. Finnerty!

    11/1/2010 4:52:56 PM
  • Troy Taylor

    I liked this blog a lot. I thought that it was very interesting how long gum has been around. I would like to try the bacon flavored gum because I love bacon =)! I think that the gumdrop is really good way to clean up gumfitti and keep animals and shoes safe =)! I like this article a lot because I learned a lot of new things from it. cant wait to comment on more of your blogs.

    11/2/2010 2:40:42 PM
  • MsFinnerty

    One concern that I would have about gum with vitamins and minerals is the possibility of overdosing. Some vitamins, like Vitamin C, are water-soluble and don't build up in tissues. Others, like Vitamins A and D, get stored in fat and can build up to a toxic level.

    11/3/2010 6:55:01 AM
  • Nicole Caliendo

    I like chewing gum, but i dont know about bacon and meatball. I never knew that we chew about 1.8 pounds of gum per person. I always knew that chewing gum can be bad and sometimes good! Overall, i think this blog is very interesting.

    11/17/2010 1:30:52 PM
  • Maddie Murray

    i love gum, but i can't imagin what bacon would be like....GROSS! i heard that there is this wall of gum in seattle washington, it is so wierd, it is in an ally and both sides of the walls are compleately filled with gum.
    i can't believe that gum actuly can increase your blood flow!!!!!!!!

    11/20/2010 11:55:02 AM
  • Tim Conceison

    Bacon flavored gum? Not very good, I've had experience. On the other hand, I never knew how helpful sugarless gum could be, by increasing blood flow to the brain and aiding in the protection of cavities. Then again, there are also the negatives, such as potential jaw damage. All in all, gum chewing could be considered a very healthy habit if taken in moderation based on this entry.

    11/22/2010 3:22:36 PM
  • Caroline Putnam

    I would not enjoy the taste of bacon flavored gum at all. I much prefer mint or berry. This article was very interesting. I never thought that gum could be used for medical purposes. Also, I love gum but I do not chew it too often. I can't imagine chewing 1.8 pounds in just one year! That's amazing.

    1/30/2011 7:52:42 PM
  • Laura Hevenor

    I'm going to have to tell my parents that chewing gum can be good for you... lol! some people are saying bacon and meatball flavored gum would be gross, but I'd like to try it!

    7/7/2011 11:24:54 AM
  • sebastian

    how is it possible to make bacn flavored gum? I mean i would like it but bacon and gum, not righr dude.

    10/4/2011 10:20:52 AM
  • MsFinnerty

    I've tried bacon flavored "mints" (which seems like a contradiction), and they were totally gross!

    10/5/2011 2:40:00 PM
  • Elly V.

    My brother once bought bacon flavored gum and while he liked it (he loves bacon) I thought it was disgusting (I also strongly dislike bacon.) Anyway, I think that it's incredible so many people spend so much money on gum throughout a year! I have never seen a Gumdrop but it sounds like a great idea. Maybe if the middle school had one, we could eat gum! Just a thought.

    1/30/2012 1:59:21 PM
  • MsFinnerty

    Elly, I bought bacon-flavored "mints" once for a joke, but they really weren't that funny. They were waaaaaaaay too gross for that. To be perfectly honest, even the Gumdrop grosses me out, although I know it's better to put the used gum in there rather than on the ground, or under the desk or chair....

    1/31/2012 12:32:25 PM
  • Elly V.

    Agreed...I would feel bad for the poor person who would have to pick up that disgusting wad of old gum! Gross.

    1/31/2012 3:28:41 PM
  • Matt Landers

    There are some positives about chewing gum. There are gums out now that can help turn your teeth whiter and kill bacteria in the mouth.

    I'm glad we can chew gum in the high school to relive stress during exams.

    There are also gum ball vitamins out on store shelves. Now they make all kinds of gum flavors.

    2/14/2012 1:19:34 PM
  • MsFinnerty

    Matt, I have also read that chewing gum can relieve stress. However, it causes stress for people who have to remove it from underneath desks and chairs! Regarding vitamin-enriched gum, I would advise you to be careful because we can overdose on certain vitamins.

    2/14/2012 1:56:25 PM
  • Alex Marek

    Also, there is "energy gum". It has a little caffeine, some vitamins, and sugar. 2 pieces is equal to the amount of energy in a cup of coffee. I read this off a Google page and saw the gum while shopping for food. If you want to find it, it's called Jolt. Also, to help teachers, there is gum that is supposedly "not sticky". I'm still looking for the name, but these are very cool!

    3/1/2012 4:50:12 PM
  • MsFinnerty

    Isn't it funny that there are people whose jobs it is to invent new kinds of gum? They would have an educational background in chemistry. Regarding the Jolt gum, I wouldn't recommend it due to the caffeine!

    3/5/2012 9:02:09 AM
 

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