Posts tagged ‘gum’

Chewing Gum Digests Within a Few Days

By Chad Upton | Editor

An old wives tale states that gum stays in your stomach for up to  seven years, but that is far from the truth.

Although it’s pretty sticky between your fingers, a single piece of gum doesn’t present a great challenge to your digestive enzymes — gum generally moves through your digestive system pretty quickly.

Food digests in as little as a few hours, and although gum can move at the same speed, it is sometimes slower than normal food, and it passes through our digestive system within a few days at the most.

The confusion comes from the fact that gum cannot be broken down. It’s the same as small coins, they cannot be broken down but they usually pass through within a couple of days. That earns gum the designation of “indigestible”, but that doesn’t mean it won’t pass through the digestive system, it just means it can’t be broken down into smaller pieces. I guess it goes in the same category as corn.

That means habitual swallowers can suffer from blockages and constipation if a large amount of gum builds up, especially children who swallow gum frequently. But, a single piece of gum usually passes without a problem.

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Sources: Scientific American, Snopes, How Stuff Works

November 1, 2010 at 1:00 am 4 comments

Modern Chewing Gum is Made in a Lab

By Chad Upton | Editor

Chewing gum has been around for a long time. The first form of chewing gum was birch bark tar, dating back about 5000 years in Finland.

Ancient Greeks chewed a gummy substance from the mastic tree. Aztecs and Mayans chews chicle from the chicle tree.

Chicle is responsible for modern chewing gum. In fact, the famous brand of gum, Chiclets, is named after chicle. Wrigley originally used chicle from a number of natural sources in Central America. But, just like sugar, we found a way to create chicle in a lab, saving the expense of importing it.

In 1937, some scientists at Standard Oil (now ExxonMobil), developed Butyl Rubber, which is almost exactly the same as chicle. It’s also used to make rubber tires, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls and many rubber components used for home construction on roofs and around HVAC fixtures.

Global supplies of butyl rubber primarily come from two companies ExxonMobil and LANXESS, a spin off of Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Chicle is still used for chewing gum in some markets, such as Japan.

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Photo: Darren Hester (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (Chicle, Chewing Gum, Polyisobutylene)

October 4, 2010 at 4:00 am 2 comments

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