Bubble gum has been a part of one’s childhood, one way or another. Think of those sweet and fruity colored treats that we blow and pop! As adults, this a way to release our stress. Sometimes, it is even the cause of stress, having sat or stepped on a chewed one. But for now, let us choose to focus on the happy and sweeter side of bubble gums!
There is one important thing to take note of when talking about bubble gum; it is not the same as chewing gum. The main difference is said to be in the gum base. The chewing gum base comes from chicle, a natural gum harvested from the sap of a tropical tree called sopapilla tree. Recently, the chicle is replaced with synthetic rubber and also use softeners like glycerin and vegetable oil to keep the gum from getting too hard. As its names says, this gum is chewy, but will not be able to create and blow a large bubble. Meanwhile, the base of the bubble gum is a combination of polymers and starches created in a laboratory and can be stretched out and turn out bubbles by blowing air into it.
Bubble Gum Trivia
- Walter E. Diemer is given the credit to being the inventor of the bubblegum. As the story goes, he was said to be an accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in 1928 and went on to experiment with different chewing gum flavors and recipes during his free time. One of his experiments had to ability to be stretched more than others and can be blown into bubbles. However, he did not officially patent the process that he discovered and did not receive royalties from his company or other bubble gum manufacturers who went on to produce bubble gums.
- Pink is said to be the most popular or most common bubble gum color. Why? Because when Diemer was experimenting on creating new gums, pink was the only available food coloring.
- Chad Fell holds the record of the largest bubblegum bubble blown without using his hands. The bubble’s diameter measured 50.8 centimeters or 20 inches. Fell said that he used three pieces of Dubble Bubble gum. This happened on April 24, 2004 at the Winston County in Alabama.
- Hate stepping or sitting on chewed up gums? Here’s a place that is NOT for you. Check out the Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California! This is a 70-foot-long alleyway with 15-foot-high walls filled with chewed bubblegum! However, it can also be considered as a work of art, with the graffiti, messages, and more that people created with their gums! It might not be the cleanest place to visit, but art it is!
Bubble Gum Buying Guide
Bubble gum comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most common that we see in the market:
- Ball gum – as the name says, this gum is circular in shape, like a ball. It is often sold in bulk, having multiple, colorful balls in a transparent container.
- Center-filled gum – this gum usually has a soft mass of tasty liquid at the center, making for an interesting tasty bite!
- Stick gum – comes in flat, thin, and rectangular shape
- Ribbon gum – this is like a stick gum, but one that is not cut up into pieces. It is coiled up in a container, with the person getting to choose the length it wants to tear off.
Aside from being a sweet treat, bubble gums were also designed for different purposes. Vitamins and minerals, as well as other medicines are infused into some gums for quicker absorption into the bloodstream than pills. There is also the nicotine gum made for people who are trying to quit smoking. Other gums were also formulated to help freshen breath and have cleaner whiter teeth.
Bubble Gum Production & Farming in Texas
Just like in any part of the country, bubble gums can easily be found and bought anywhere: from supermarkets and groceries, to convenience stores, vending machines, and of course, from our favorite candy stores.
But did you know that Texas was actually the home to one of the biggest names in bubble gum history! Called the Bubble Gum King, Andrew Paris was credited to be the man who made bubblegum available to kids everywhere at that time, and the man that launched one of the biggest iconic trends: the art of blowing bubble gum bubbles! It was in 1946 in McAllen, Texas when Andrew Paris broke up a fight from a group of boys and seeing that it was caused by a piece of bubblegum! At that time, bubble gums were very expensive. And he grabbed that opportunity. He obtained materials from Mexico and mass-produced 5000 tons of bubblegum for the market! Paris Bubblegum, sold for a penny apiece at that time immediately became an overnight worldwide sensation. Then on 1947, the Paris Gum Corp. of America building was established in McAllen.
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals
As we mentioned, bubble gums and chewing gums are usually made from a gum base, now usually composed of synthetic rubbers, mixed with sweeteners and flavorings. While the ingredients are generally considered as safe, there are still some brands that are said to use some controversial ingredients, though in lower amounts than what will cause risk to its consumers.
- Aspartame – This is an artificial sweetener that is usually found in sugar-free food options. This substance has caused controversies with it being associated with causing sicknesses like headaches, obesity, and cancer. However, there is no official evidence proving these claims. With this, it is recommended to consume food with aspartame moderately or to choose aspartame-free food.
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) – BHT is an antioxidant often used as a preservative in many processed foods. This prevents fats from going rancid, keeping the food fresh. But just like aspartame, it became controversial when some animal studies showed that consumption of high doses can cause cancer. But there is still no conclusive evidence. It is said that 0.25 mg per kg or 0.11 mg per pound of bodyweight of BHT is generally recognized as safe by the US FDA and European Food Safety Authority.
For those who can’t give up on their bubble gum cravings, there are still natural chewing gum alternatives, some of which use ingredients like xylitol, natural flavorings, and vegetable glycerin.
There are several ways to package bubble gums: like the sticks, tabs or pellets that are individually wrapped in paper and foil, or in blister packs to keep them fresh. Gumballs are often sold in jars and containers, some even coming in cute little dispensers. Meanwhile, bubble gums coiled into long rolls or tapes are packed in a single plastic container.
Enjoying Bubble Gums
Get one, pop into your mouth, chew, and blow air to create a bubble! That is how easy eating bubble gum can be! Aside from the usual enjoyment of having that burst of sweetness and flavor and having something to do, it also brings out the child in us, having to challenge ourselves (or even others) to blow the biggest bubble you can create. There are also some benefits to chewing some gum like: improved memory, increased awareness, reduction of stress and anxiety, relieving ear pain during flights, and can aid acid reflux. Sugarless gums (in the case of chewing gums) can also help prevent tooth decay and gingivitis. But of course, there are still not-so-happy side effects like causing jaw problems and headaches due to too much chewing. Sugary gums can increase plaque and cause tooth decay over time.
There is one myth regarding bubble gums: one must not swallow a bubble gum because it stays in your stomach for seven years. Medical practitioners have already belied this. While it is true that bubble gum is hard to digest and should not be swallowed, it will still pass through the body just like any other food. It will be excreted out in your stool, with some parts still intact as it was not fully digested. This is why it is especially dangerous for children as swallowing too much gum may cause blockage in their intestines. It is highly recommended to keep kids away from bubble gums or chewing gums until they are older and can understand that it must not be swallowed.
Gums must always be kept sealed and kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight to retain its freshness. It is said that gums have a shelf-life of about six to nine months.
Homemade Bubble Gum
While it is easier and more convenient to just grab a pack off the shelf, it is still worth an experience to personally make your own bubble gum at home! In this recipe published in the kids’ section of the website Lovetoknow, the ingredients are not all easily found in the pantry, so make sure to prepare and get the necessary ingredients prior to cooking!
Just to note, the recipe can produce a gum a bit closer to a chewing gum. It can create smaller bubbles, and of course, has a different texture the commercially made bubble gums.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup of gum base pellets
- 5 tablespoons of light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon citric acid
- 4 teaspoons glycerin
- 5-7 drops concentrated candy flavoring of your choice
- Food coloring
- Place the powdered sugar on a wooden cutting board or a flat surface. Create a well in the middle.
- Mix together the gum base pellets, corn syrup, citric acid, and glycerin in a microwaveable bowl.
- Cook this mixture on high in 15-second intervals. Stir between the intervals as the moisture will boil.
- Remove the bowl from the microwave once the mixture is completely melted. Add the flavoring and coloring using a metal fork. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour the mixture carefully into the powdered sugar well.
- Mix together using the metal fork until it cools down to be handled by hand. Add powdered sugar (in small increments) to the mixture if it is too wet or sticky.
- Knead the gum using your hands until it reaches a gum-like consistency.
- Roll and cut the gum into shapes and sizes you prefer.
- Let the gum dry for about 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure it is dry before individually wrapped in wax paper or candy foil.