Chewing gum; it is a substance that we all have tried, and if you’re like me, you love to chew it all of the time. I once asked my great-grandfather how chewing gum was made and I remember him telling me that it came from trees. That was many years ago, and I haven’t really thought about it much until recently.
So how is chewing gum made? From what I have discovered, the process has changed a bit from when the treat was first manufactured.
Traditional Chewing Gum (Earlier Version)
The base ingredient in traditional chewing gum is made from a substance called Chicle (chewed on by ancient Mayans). Chicle is a latex sap that comes from a Sapodilla Tree (perhaps the tree my grandfather was referring to). It is a natural soft form of latex, which allows for continuous “chewing” and doesn’t break down in your mouth. The substance hardens when cool, and becomes more pliable when warm (i.e. the warmth from your mouth allows for smooth chewing). The Chicle is combined with other ingredients (like sweeteners and flavoring) to attain the final product.
Gum produced from Chicle started in America around the mid 19th century. In addition to using Chicle, here are other early forms of gum base that were used:
- Earlier findings state that ancient Greeks chewed on gum made from mastiche. Mastiche is the resin collected from the mastic tree.
- Early American settlers learned from the Native Americans to chew the sap from spruce trees. They did so, along with chewing on beeswax as well.
Modernized Chewing Gum
Eventually manufacturers developed a synthetic version of chicle in order to produce chewing gum. The synthetic version was created to display identical reactions to temperature (softening up when in one’s mouth, hardening when cool). This synthetic version, polyisobutylene, is truly what we consider to be rubber. However, when looking at ingredients, it is most typically referred to as “gum base”, not rubber. This base is again mixed with sweeteners and flavorings in order to achieve the final product. Some people believe that this synthetic rubber is detrimental to our health and shouldn’t be chewed on- but I did not find any of these concerns to be founded.
Here is an “at home” list of ingredients for you to whip up your own batch of the chewy stuff!
Gum Base Pellets
Bubble Gum Flavor
Go HERE if you would like to see the full instructions!
Check out this video below from the television show How It’s Made to see a behind the scenes look of bubble gum from start to finish!