Chewing gum: 5,000 years and still chewing away


Did you know that chewing gum has been around for over 5,000 years? What makes this treat still popular after all these years?

Chewing gum has stood the test of time. Looking through food history, the originals of gum can be traced back over 5,000 years. While the exact person, location or type of gum isn’t quite known, the enjoyment of gum predates the light bulb. Today, chewing gum, in its various flavors and forms, still blows some pretty big bubbles in the confectionary industry.

According to the International Chewing Gum Association (ICGA), gum offers both chewing pleasure and flavor sensation. While people choose gum for her own personal reason, some benefits range “from oral care to stress reduction to calorie management.” It has been, and remains, “one of the most popular forms of confectionary worldwide.”

With such a long, storied history, gum has had both positive and questionable moments. What kid hadn’t heard the scolding from a parent that swallowing gum would remain in your stomach for years. While this statement is hyperbole (gum breaks down like any other digested food), many gum comments have stuck in people’s memories.

Tic Tac Spearmint, photo provided by Tic Tac

Today, people are rethinking their opinions about gum. Some teachers are using sugar-free gum as a reward. In some scenarios, people find that chewing gum can be a concentration aid and help school performance.

Of course, the idea that gum freshens your breath is still a popular reason to enjoy this confection. According to Tic Tac, the brand’s most popular flavors are spearmint, peppermint and cinnamon. These three flavors seems to offer that mouth refreshing taste. Whether helping to hide that garlic-heavy lunch or just the mid-afternoon refreshing boost of mint, these classic flavors will never go out of style.

Each year at the annual Sweets and Snacks Expo, gum and mints honor product innovation in this part of the confectionary industry. Whether it is a new flavor, combination of flavors or even format, gum is, and will be, an important part of this sweets and snacks market.

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Over the years, chewing gum has evolved. Just like other candies and confections, gum has expanded its flavors. A brand, like Tic Tac, has sold over twenty million packs. Even with its popularity, the brand doesn’t just stay stagnant. While the three most popular flavors have their place, newer options like flavor mixes or even flavor changing choices sit side by side on store shelves.

Sometimes gum is more about sharing an experience with someone else. How often does a friend pull out a stick or shake a pack of Tic Tacs to share? Maybe it is your friend’s nice way of saying you have bad breath or hopefully it is just a nice gesture to share a little treat. Even if don’t normally chew gum, this moment is a nice moment of sharing.

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Like many, almost all, foods, there is food holiday celebrating gum. September 30 is National Chewing Gum Day. This food holiday can be a great reason (excuse) to revisit gum and all it offers. Whether you blow a big bubble or just freshen your breath, gum is, and will be, a part of the confectionary landscape. Which leaves just one question, what your favorite chewing gum?