PNG images: Chewing gum

Chewing gum is a soft, cohesive substance designed to be chewed without being swallowed. Modern chewing gum is composed of gum base, sweeteners, softeners/plasticizers, flavors, colors, and, typically, a hard or powdered polyol coating. Its texture is reminiscent of rubber because of the physical-chemical properties of its polymer, plasticizer, and resin components, which contribute to its elastic-plastic, sticky, chewy characteristics.

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Chewing gum in many forms has existed since the Neolithic period. 6,000-year-old chewing gum made from birch bark tar, with tooth imprints, has been found in Kierikki in Finland. The tar from which the gums were made is believed to have antiseptic properties and other medicinal benefits. It is chemically similar to petroleum tar and is in this way different from most other early gum. The Aztec, as well as the ancient Maya before them, used chicle, a natural tree gum, as a base for making a gum-like substance and to stick objects together in everyday use. Forms of chewing gums were also chewed in Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree. Mastic gum, like birch bark tar, has antiseptic properties and is believed to have been used to maintain oral health. Both chicle and mastic are tree resins. Many other cultures have chewed gum-like substances made from plants, grasses, and resins.

Although chewing gum can be traced back to civilizations around the world, the modernization and commercialization of this product mainly took place in the United States. The American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees. The New Englandsettlers picked up this practice, and in 1848, John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum. In this way, the industrializing West, having forgotten about tree gums, rediscovered chewing gum through the First Americans. Around 1850 a gum made from paraffin wax, which is a petroleum product, was developed and soon exceeded the spruce gum in popularity. To sweeten these early gums, the chewer would often make use of a plate of powdered sugar, which they would repeatedly dip the gum into to maintain sweetness. William Semple filed an early patent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.

 

The first flavored chewing gum was created in the 1860s by John Colgan, a Louisville, Kentucky pharmacist. Colgan mixed with powdered sugar the aromatic flavoring tolu, a powder obtained from an extract of the balsam tree (Myroxylon), creating small sticks of flavored chewing gum he named "Taffy Tolu". Colgan also lead the way in the manufacturing and packaging of chicle-based chewing gum, derived from Manilkara chicle, a tropical evergreen tree. He licensed a patent for automatically cutting chips of chewing gum from larger sticks: US 966,160 "Chewing Gum Chip Forming Machine" August 2, 1910 and a patent for automatically cutting wrappers for sticks of chewing gum: US 913,352 "Web-cutting attachment for wrapping-machines" February 23, 1909 from Louisville, Kentucky inventor James Henry Brady, an employee of the Colgan Gum Company.

Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was brought from Mexico by the former President, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, to New York, where he gave it to Thomas Adams for use as a rubbersubstitute. Chicle did not succeed as a replacement for rubber, but as a gum, which was cut into strips and marketed as Adams New York Chewing Gum in 1871. Black Jack (1884), which is flavored with licorice, Chiclets(1899), and Wrigley's Spearmint Gum were early popular gums that quickly dominated the market and are all still around today. Chewing gum gained worldwide popularity through American GIs in WWII, who were supplied chewing gum as a ration and traded it with locals. Synthetic gums were first introduced to the U.S. after chicle no longer satisfied the needs of making good chewing gum. By the 1960s, US manufacturers had switched to butadiene-based synthetic rubber, as it was cheaper to manufacture.

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