What is Gum made of?
Gum is made of “chicle”, a substance found in sapodilla trees, which are native to Central America. These trees can be found in countries like Guatemala and Mexico. Chicle is like a rubbery sap of the tree and is mixed with flavoring to form the gum that we know today.
Chewing gum was already present in ancient times. It was said that the Greeks had some form of gum from the resin of a mastic tree. Native Americans also had gum using the sap of spruce trees. This probably led to the first chewing gums sold in 1848 called “spruce gum”. Two years later, paraffin gums became popular. But it was in 1871 when Thomas Adams had a machine for the mass production of gums made of chicle. Since then, many others followed Adams’ lead and made gum from chicle.
But since chicle was a rubbery substance, Thomas Adams actually tried to make synthetic rubber items from it. He tried to make toys, boots, and even bike tires from chicle, but all items were not successful during his experimentations. But it was said that when he tried to taste the chicle, he instantly liked it. And so he went on to add some flavoring to the raw chicle and the chewing gum was born.
Making the gum is quite simple. The chicle gum base is heated and melted and after which various flavorings can now be added. These flavorings may be in the form of sugar, corn syrup, or fruit extracts. After putting the flavors, the gum is then rolled and cut into sticks.
Today there’s a wide variety of gum flavors including popular ones like peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, strawberry, orange, grape, and watermelon among others. Chemists have also been able to make a synthetic version of chicle, making gum production much easier and faster.