Chewing gum facts you didn't know about

Chewing gum has a unique place in American culture. It has been used for a variety of purposes, from keeping astronauts healthy to freshening breath to helping people avoid greasy snacks, and one gum maker says that if you pile up all the pieces of gum that are sold, the pile it would stretch to the middle of the moon.

Chewing gum facts you didn't know about

Chewing gum has a unique place in American culture. It has been used for a variety of purposes, from keeping astronauts healthy to freshening breath to helping people avoid greasy snacks, and one gum maker says that if you pile up all the pieces of gum that are sold, the pile it would stretch to the middle of the moon.

The most popular type of chewing gum, sugarless gum, has been around since 1960. It was an instant hit when it was first introduced. Today, people can find sugar-free gum in a rainbow of flavors, and sugar-free gum that helps whiten teeth. So where did all these gummy ideas come from? The answer may surprise you.

Much of the gum chewed today is developed at the New Jersey-based Cadbury Schweppes Americas Confectionery Science and Technology Center. Cadbury Schweppes Americas Confectionery is part of Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE: CSG), the world's largest confectionery company and a leader in the beverage industry. Employees at the Center for Science and Technology develop favorite rubbers like Dentyne and Bubblicious. One of the company's latest creations, Trident Splash, is the first sugar-free gum with a liquid center. It comes in mint with vanilla and strawberry flavored with lime and, according to its creators, it helps clean people's teeth if chewed after eating.

As popular as chewing gum is, its creation is far from simple. Dr. Barbara Raphael, director of the Cadbury Schweppes Americas Center for Confectionery Science and Technology, says chewing gum formulas are actually very complex and that it takes up to 70 ingredients to create great tasting chewing gum (a far cry from some early varieties of gum made from tree resin and powdered sugar).

"High-quality, long-life chewing gum requires a complex flavor system. We start with a distinctive flavor, a flavor that we are all familiar with, and then we go from there," explains Dr. Raphael. Often, he says, his team works with what are known as "high notes" when creating new gum.

The process of adding top notes is all about adding specific flavors that are not generally associated with the base flavor. This is done through a high-tech process (as well as trial and error). For example, the company's cinnamon gum (called Dentyne Fire) combines warm notes with a base flavor of cinnamon. Its powerful peppermint and spearmint gum (called Dentyne Ice) combines fresh notes with mint or spearmint flavors.

Of course, texture is also an important part of the gum experience. Dr. Raphael says that is why his company uses a variety of ingredients to find the right feel for its gum. "Ingredients exhibit a wide range of physical characteristics, from free-flowing liquids, soft and granular pastes, to different types of solids," he explains.

All ingredients must be combined in the proper proportions and the correct temperatures and pressures must be met to produce gum that meets what Dr. Raphael describes as "consumer chewing expectations." Don't worry though, it looks like the tech hub has turned that process into a science. The company manufactures around 65 billion gum each year for consumers in Canada, the United States, Latin America, and South America.

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