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Just what is bubble gum and how is it made? Believe it or not, you are chewing on a piece of rubber! Gum Base – which forms the core ingredient of gum – is made from a wide variety of substances that help determine the final product’s elasticity, strength, texture, and softness.
Five key components make up the synthetic gum base, including elastomers, resins, fillers, preservatives, and plasticizers.
Resin is used to form the base of the gum. An elastomer provides the rubbery quality, while a plasticizer keeps the gum soft and pliable. Finally, fillers are used to add more body, and preservatives delay the decay of the gum base.
Once these ingredients are combined, the gum base is melted, and flavorings and sweeteners are added to it. The gum is then rolled, pressed, pulled and finally cut or molded into the shape desired.
Gumballs, after bring shaped, are dipped into liquid sugar, colored, and coated with several layers of that glaze. Furthermore, gumballs are hollow for two special reasons: to reduce manufacturing cost and to make the gumball easier to bit into. Today, gum comes flavored by natural sugars and fruit flavorings or sugar-free sweeteners.
The history of modern chewing gum goes back quite a ways. Chewing gum was first patented around 1869 by, of all people, a dentist. Dentists and pharmacists are often credited with creating many of the sweets, treats, and over-the-counter cure-alls we have today – their experience in chemistry and science, and plenty of downtime – being a key ingredient.
Since those early days, the production of gum base has moved from natural ingredients to synthetics, from small shops to factories. However, you can make your own gum at home as a fun project for the family.
Some types of gum today even add ingredients such as caffeine for alertness, medications (quicker delivery than a pill) or antibacterial properties for soldiers’ oral hygiene in the field (currently being tested in the U.S. military).
Getting bored with fruit flavored bubblegum? Don’t worry, there’s gum flavored like licorice, flowers, bacon (yes…bacon), cactus mint, and much more.