Kids love it. Teachers frown on it. So do dentists. Hard lumps of it can be found lurking under the seats at movie theatres - or on the bottom of your shoes. In some places, chewing it is a crime. Gum is sold all over the world, in every shape and size. It comes by the stick, by the chunk, by the ball, by the tiny pellet. Gum comes in all flavors, from peppermint and spearmint to cinnamon, clove and fruit. There is even gum that tastes like violets.
Bubble gum is gum with something extra. You chew, you blow, you pop - sometimes all over your own face. But all gum is peculiar. It goes in the mouth, it gets chewed - but it is not really food. You're not supposed to swallow it, although you might by accident. You simply chew and chew, until the flavor is gone and the gum is a tasteless rubbery lump in your mouth. Yuck. You spit it out, and it ends up on someone's shoe. (Which is why, in some places, gum is banned.)
Gum is not a recent invention. Both the ancient Greeks and the Mayan Indians enjoyed a good wad of gum. But it wasn't until about the 1860s that familiar modern gum was manufactured. What’s the key ingredient in a modern stick of gum? A Clue can be found in the brand name of one gum: Chiclets. Chewing gum is made from chiclets, which is a gummy sap from the bark of a special evergreen tree. The tree, know scientifically as Zapata, grows naturally in Central America. Gum makers boil the chiclets to remove water, then cut it into blocks, wash it with chemicals, and dry it. What is left is a pale-pink powder. Machines blend chiclets with other latex (rubbery) products to make the gum base, the part of the gum that stays solid no matter how long you chew it. The gum base is ground, melted, sterilized and purified until it is a thick, clean syrup. Other machines add ingredients like sugar, corn syrup and flavorings to give each gum its distinctive taste.
The gum is mixed in huge vats until it has the consistency of bread dough. Then it is flattened by rollers into thin sheets, which are left to cool and harden before they are cut into small pieces (the sticks).Gum sticks may then be sprinkled with powdered sugar, wrapped in paper by another machine and stuffed into little familiar modern gum was manufactured.
What's the key ingredient in a modem stick of gum? A clue can be found in the brand name of one gum: Chiclets. Chewing gum is made from chiclets, which is a gummy sap from the bark of a special evergreen tree. The tree, known scientifically as Zapata, grows naturally in Central America. Gum makers boil the chiclets to remove water, then cut it into blocks, wash it with chemicals, and dry it. What is left is a pale-pink powder. Machines blend chiclets with other latex (rubbery) products packages. Why chew gum? Simply because it is fun. It gives a burst of sweet flavors. It is something to do with your mouth between meals. Some even say that chewing gum increases concentration, relieves boredom, and relaxes. And if you get it in your sister's hair, you can spend many happy hours trying to un stick it (amid much screaming and yelling), until your mum comes running along and snips it out with a pair of scissors.
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