We live in an age of endless opportunities and innovation. From technological advancements to a variety of foods to choose from, we're fortunate. People have so much choice; they don't question where their favourite treats come from and how they're made.
One such treat is gum. Whether you prefer chewing gum or bubble gum, you probably don't know where it comes from, how it's made and if it's even considered a candy.
In this post, we're going to answer all of those questions and tell you everything you need to know about gum.
The History of Chewing Gum
Believe it or not, the concept of chewing gum has been with us since the stone age. The sap of a Sapodilla tree produced a gum-like substance called chicle gum. Although we use synthetic alternatives today, the consistency is very similar to chicle gum.
Types of Gum
When it comes to gum, there are plenty of options available for all taste preferences. From traditional bubblegum to fruity flavours and even fiery cinnamon, you'll find a brand you love. But what about the types of gum?
Pieces: Gum pieces are pretty small and have a hard coating.
Sticks: Longer pieces of chewing gum without the harder coating.
Bubblegum Balls: Traditional confectionery, similar to chewing gum pieces, but the balls are often coated in bright colours.
Liquid Centre: A relatively new addition to the gum family, liquid centres are full of flavour and continue to grow in popularity.
How Do Manufacturers Make Gum?
The chewing gum manufacturing process is relatively standard across the world. It involves a series of essential steps to achieving the right taste, texture and consistency.
Let's take a look at the step by step process.
While many manufacturers use synthetic latex to create gum, some still prefer the traditional chicle route. Producers score a chicle tree with large crosses and let the liquid run into a container.
Once there's enough chicle, the producers heat it until it reduces in volume. The chicle is poured into moulds and left to set.
The natural chicle or artificial latex goes through an intensive grinding process to make sure it maintains consistency.
Next is the drying process. Once the blend is mixed enough, it dries in a room for up to two days.
Cooking and Mixing
The cooking process involves heating the gum base at 116 degrees celsius. Once a syrup forms, the manufacturers will continue to filter the mixture to achieve the right consistency.
Additives such as corn syrup and flavours are mixed into the gum base, and a fine sugar gives the mixture a sweet taste.
When the mixture reaches a cool temperature, it goes onto belts to continue the cooling process.
Kneading, Cutting & Packaging
Machines take care of the kneading process, which smooths the gum to the right consistency. It's then rolled, cut into strips and wrapped in foil or wax paper.
The manufacturers can then add the branding to the gum and send it off to the retailers.
While there are various gum types, the basic manufacturing process is the same; there are just a few minor differences.
Gumballs and Candy Coated Gum
Gumballs are popular among young people, and they're made by scoring a cylinder of gum to create ball shapes.
Once they harden, the balls are covered with colouring and flavour, giving each ball a unique taste.
The balls are dried with warm air and then rolled in wax to create a shiny finish. Candy-coated gums are made similarly, but they're packaged in boxes instead of plastic containers.
Drawbacks of Gum
There are so many unique gum flavours around, and sugar-free versions are prevalent. Chewing gum has many advantages, including its ability to aid in healthy teeth, and a lot of people find it helps them stop snacking or smoking.
With a strict manufacturing process, there's very little wrong with gum - apart from the flavour. The average piece of chewing or bubble gum retains its distinctive taste for approximately five minutes.
There have been so many technological advancements, but manufacturers are yet to discover how to make gum retain its flavour.
Most people find that while they enjoy chewing gum, the mint flavours tend to last a lot longer than others.
So, Is Gum a Candy?
The short answer to this question is yes, but there are many conflicting opinions about whether or not gum is candy.
What do people think?
Interestingly, more people consider bubblegum to be candy rather than chewing gum.
Bubblegum often comes in traditional fruity flavours that are popular with children. Chewing gum has a variety of flavours too - but the most popular are peppermint and spearmint.
Most think chewing gum is the adult alternative, so it's easy to understand why bubblegum is considered more of a candy.
Businesses Views on Gum
For most businesses, gum falls under the confectionery category. It's often made with sugar or sugar substitutes to give it a sweet taste which is why many class it as a candy.
Wholesalers and retailers often advertise their gum in the confectionery section along with the chocolates and sweets, so it makes sense that many agree that the sweet taste and flavours mean gum is a sweet type.
In a way, gum is similar to tomatoes in its categorisation. You can't (or shouldn't at least) swallow chewing or bubblegum, so technically, it's different to most types of candy.
Tomatoes are fruit, but most people class them as vegetables because a tomato lacks the characteristic sweet flavours that other fruits have.
The Bottom Line
Chewing and bubble gum will always be popular, but they can't beat the traditional British sweet for some people. While gum is a great way to help you stay on top of a diet or quit smoking, most prefer actual sweets.
Popular choices include jelly beans, Haribo sweets and wine gums. Whatever you choose, make sure you're getting the best value for your money and consider buying wholesale.If you found this post useful, check out our guide on whether chocolate goes bad here.