“Chewing gum is a lot like heroin, since both are incredibly enjoyable.”
~William S. Burroughs
Chewing gum is an enigmatic American invention. While it combines ancient history, American ingenuity, and tooth decay, it is not considered to be as awesomely American as alligator wrestling or cage matches (or any combination of the two). But, in reality, chewing gum is an underappreciated yet surprisingly American commodity.
First, ask yourself a question. Who makes chewing gum? Wrigley’s of course. And where do the Chicago Cubs, America’s most American loveable losers play? Wrigley Field.
Did you know: Those two are named after the same fucking guy.
Once you pick up the pieces of your exploded cranium, the America Fun Fact of the Day presents to you…
Chewing Gum: More American than your immigrant grandparents
The evolution of Chewing gum began over 5,000 years ago, when early man would chew on a gum created of birch bark tar, which was supposed to give them health advantages. In fact, ancient runes found alongside the gum came imprinted with one of the first historic examples of advertising, which stated, “Living until 30, just a myth? Not with Bark Chew Bar.” This is believed to be the birth of ad agencies, since a half full bottle of scotch was also found at the same archeological dig.
Later use of chewing gum substances eventually founded their way to the American continent, with Aztecs creating a chewing gum using chicle as a base, with women in particular using this gum as a mouth freshener. Gum has been a mainstay of purses ever since.
The Greeks were also found to have used primitive version of chewing gum, made from the resin of mastic trees, and though historians are unable to discover what this mastic gum was used for, most agree that it was probably incredibly homoerotic.
Native Americans also chewed resin from the sap of spruce trees, but when America came around, America did what America does best. We stole the shit out of the idea, and turned it into profit. So in 1848, John B. Curtis created and distributed the first ever commercial chewing gum, which he called “The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.” While the name is pretty lackluster, Curtis cannot be blamed for coming up with such a lame name, since years of living in Maine had sapped his body of any ounce of imagination.
Eventually spruce sap was replaced by paraffin wax in the 1860’s because, ew, really? Spruce sap? In 1869, William Semple filed the patent for chewing gum. Despite, or perhaps because, of this clear attempt to profit on other people’s ideas, William Semple doesn’t even have a goddamned Wikipedia page, and if you googled his name in quotation marks you’d probably end up only finding the facebook page of some douchebaggy looking guy going to Virginia Tech.
Paraffin wax was eventually replaced by chicle around this time because, ew, really? Paraffin wax? We don’t even know what that’s made of, but it sounds like it’s made of ground up seabirds. That’s fucking gross. Chicle, which was being imported into America from Mexico (because nothing is more American than outsourcing) was originally intended to serve as a rubber substitute. While it failed in that endeavor, it was found to hold the taste of the gum better, while allowing for a smoother chew, than any other gum additive.
While chicle was used to create the perfect chewing gum, only a few small gum producing companies still use the product. All of your favorite gum brands are created using a synthetic rubber based on chicle known as polyisobutylene, because fuck you nature, that’s why.
Gum has served an important role in many great American moments, with gum first being rationed to U.S. Soldiers during World War I to steady their nerves and improve their concentration. Seriously. MacGyver has additionally used chewing gum to save America over thirty times throughout the course of his storied career.
A common myth about chewing gum is that, if it is swallowed, it will stay in your stomach for seven years. This is false, a lie that was actually invented by the Soviet Union to stop our brave men and women serving overseas from using gum, which helps make them much more effective than their communist counterparts. This item was leaked when it was revealed that the American military was working on creating a heavily caffeinated gum that allows soldiers to stay awake and be effective for 50% as long as they would otherwise(Fucking seriously. USA! USA!). In reality, when you swallow gum, your body treats it as a pleasant dose of alcohol, and it releases endorphins to your brain. It is said that someone swallowing a pack of gum in one night will end up feeling as euphoric as if they had a blood alcohol level of .23. If you don’t believe the America Fun Fact of the Day’s research staff on this, go home and try it, and see for yourself!*
*America Fun Fact of the Day is in no way responsible for any digestive problems that will inevitably result from this, but you should still do it and tell us about it, because the one thing our office needs is an extended “holy shit guys, do you remember when we made that person swallow an entire pack of chewing gum and they almost died? That was incredible!” conversation line. Dooooo it. Dooooo it.
Gum has several magical properties that few are aware of. For example:
- The rubber used in gum also forms the inflatable core of Basketballs, Footballs, and Soccer balls. Two of those things are cool.
- If you put a chewed up wad of gun into the muzzle of a military grade assault rifle, the rifle is instantly turned into a flame thrower. This fact, combined with an accidental surplus of chewing gum rations for American troops in World War II, is directly responsible for the Allied success on D-Day.
- Famous presidents who chewed chewing gum: Abe Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK. Lame-ass presidents who did not chew chewing gum: William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter. Coincidence? Hardly. Gum has the most “presidential charisma” per square inch of any food or drink product produced outside of Bangladesh.
- Before creating his webbing dispensers, Spiderman used to just chew up massive pieces of gum and use them to catch criminals.
- Many people freak out when they get gum in their hair. However, much like splinters, hair-gum goes away on its own after a few days, absorbing into the scalp and leaving your hair silky smooth and flake-free.
- Oil spills cause untold environmental damage, and kill countless wildlife. Massive gum spills, though roughly as frequent as oil spills, only causes mass breakouts of deliciousness.
- One time, I ate like, three pieces of gum at the same time. Big pieces too, like, double bubble. Oh my God, you guys, my jaw was sooooo sore.
So there you have it, more information about chewing gum than you ever thought you would hear. We also hear it’s a helpful way to quit smoking, so that’s something too we guess.