Kim Lubbers

My presentation is about CHEWING GUM.

Maybe you think there is nothing to tell about chewing gum. But this is not true. I will tell you something about the history of chewing gum, how it is made and things you can do if you have chewing gum in your hair or on your clothes.

The history of chewing gum

For ages people have been chewing on about everything.

The Prehistoric

Swedish archaeologist recently found spat out resin-chewing gum from the stone age. So Scandinavians where already chewing on gum about nine thousand years ago. In the year of 1932 three prehistoric skeletons were found. Besides the bones chewed slices of tree resin were found: resin of a spruce-fir.

The Maya's

About 4000 years ago the Maya-Indians cut in the bark of a sapodilla tree. From the rubber that was flowing out of the tree they made a kind of chewing gum. The chewing gum had no taste bud the Maya's liked to chew on it.

The Greeks

The Greeks got to know chewing gum about 24 hundred years ago. They liked the resin of the mastic tree. Because in Greece and Turkey these trees were found all over the place they had a lot to chew on.

The Indian's.

When Columbus discovered America in 1492 he wrote a letter to Lord Rapheal Sanchez. Columbus mentioned that he had seen the Indian's chewing on resin of the spruce-fir. European colonists copied the chewing habit of the Indianís. Also this chewing gum had no taste. But the fun of it was purely something to chew on.

The new history

Round the year 1870, for the first time, a flavour was added to the chewing gum. Of course this happened in America, the ultimate chewing country. The first American chewing gum factory originates from 1871. From the end of the last century chewing gum becomes even more popular by the Americans.

In the Netherlands, the chewing on gum really started at the end of The Second World War. American soldiers brought it with them and gave it to the Dutch girls which they wanted to chat up. In the eyes of the Dutch chewing on gum became something sturdy and masculine.

In the years after the war only little quantities of chewing gum was for sale. The chewers were careful with it. In the evening before they got to bed they put their chewing gum carefully away to pick it up again the next morning. Also they chewed on it together: first the one , then the other, both a quarter of an hour on the same peace. Especially loved ones did this game from one mouth to the other and back again. In this way they showed how much they loved each other.

Since 1948 the Netherlands is producing their own chewing gum. This happens in the first and only Dutch chewing gum factory of Maple Leaf in Amsterdam.


Colour and flavour.

Except for gum there is also sugar and glucose in chewing gum. Sugar and glucose syrup easily softens the chewing gum in your mouth and make it pleasant to chew on. These days you seldom find chewing gum with sugar. Famous brands, like SPORTLIFE, are sugar free. Sugar replacements are added to their chewing gums. These have names like sorbitol, lacitol, xylitol and mannitol. Instead of glucose syrup, maltitol syrup is used. Different flavours are added to chewing gum. For the colour natural or artificial colourings are used. Beet juice for instance gives a red colour.

Countries and flavours.

Americans are crazy for cinnamon chewing gum. Only in the middle and south of America they do not like this flavour at all. It reminds them to much of medicines. Chewers in Scandinavia are crazy for chewing gum with a salty salmiak flavour. South Europeans on the other hand love sweet, fruity flavours. Peppermint is loved all over the world. In the Netherlands and Flanders the peppermint flavour stands at the top. In Japan there are more than 150 different flavours of chewing gum. They produce flower flavoured chewing gum and even gherkin chewing gum.

Stimulating matters.

Some chewing gum contains small quantities of guarane, taurine and spirulina. Guarane is a Brazilian plant of which the fruits are used for ages now by the Amazon Indians to create a medicine that stimulates both body and mind. Taurine is a substance that is also produced by the human body. This substance contributes to preservation and development of the body. Finally Spirulina is a small blue-green algae that originates from Africa and the middle of America. Spirulina is often used in health products in which it is used as a source of energy. Also sport drinks and energy drinks contain one or more of these ingredients.

Chewing gum and bubble gum.

There are two major kinds of chewing gum: chewing gum and bubble gum. Chewing gum has the form of strips (long flat strokes) or dragée (small cushions with a shiny top layer). You can get them in all kind of flavours. With chewing gum, you cannot blow balloons. You do so with bubble gum. Bubble gum has the shape of balls and toffees. They shine and have various colours.


Difficult cleaning.

What happens with that billions of spat out chewing gums? If it is not removed it gets stuck. It starts as a white stain and soon it gets black. Chewing gum decays very slow.


Most streets and pavements in The Netherlands are wiped once in a while. Almost every paving-stone is swept or rub some time. But with a simple broom stick or an expensive sweeping machine you donít get the remains of chewing gum away. The slices must be removed with a knife piece by piece. If even possible. It depends on the kind of stone and on the age and the hardness of the slice. Fresh chewing gum is soft and tough; if youíll try to remove it , you will pull up sticky strings and a part of it still remains stuck. So donít remove gum in summer. At that time of year the soft chewing gum wonít let go.


Formerly cleaners used sprays with cooled nitrogen. They sprayed it on the slice that froze immediately. The hard slice could then be detached. But because the gasses of the sprays affected the ozone layer they soon became forbidden. An alternative, a large compressor tank with nitrogen, is very expensive.

Tips to remove chewing gum:

1. When your have chewing gum on your clothes, put it in the freezer. The slice of gum becomes hard and can easily be removed.

2. If there is chewing gum on hard or cleanable areas, for instance on chairs or tables, then put some peanut butter on the chewing gum. The slice becomes soft and you can remove the slice with a paper or brush.

3. You can also rub the chewing gum with an ice cube. The gum gets hard. After that, crape it off with a knife carefully.

4. It sometimes helps to put some nail polish remover on the slice and rub it in.

5. If the chewing gum blows in your face, then remove the spots with the rest of the chewed gum. The chewing gum lets loose by itself.

6. Chewing gum can be removed from woollen suits by the dry cleaner.


The melting department

The melting department weighs off the right quantities of the main ingredients which form the gum basis. In this process rubber, resin, wax and softeners are used. The rubber is a juice that is gain from a sapodilla tree. These trees must be at least 20 year old and are tapped every 4 years. The gum basis that is made of it is the same for every flavour of chewing gum. In exact quantities the different ingredient come together in large melting machine. The dough gets heated to a temperature between 80 and 130 degrees Celsius.

The melting machine.

The hot melted chewing gum basis has the form of a thick syrup. After cooling down a firm basis develops. Each day about 9.000 kilo of this chewing gum basis goes from the melting machine's to the next department.

The kneading department.

The kneading machine kneads the dough together with the other ingredients which make real chewing gum of it. For the sugar containing chewing gum, kilos of sugar and many litres of syrup go in the dough.

The flavour laboratory.

The flavours come from the flavour laboratory. Here the flavour oils are made which give every chewing gum its own taste. For instance peppermint oil is used for mint flavour.

The cutting department.

The chewing gum is now formed into small breads which need to cool down. Once cooled down the bread gets flattened by a kind of ironing machine. The thin slice that remains goes through the cutting machine that forms small chewing gums. At this moment the peaces are still stuck together

The coating department.

The chewing gum is broken into small peaces and coated with a crusty layer. This takes place in large spinning pans where a highly concentrated sugar solution is sprayed on the chewing gum. After this the layer gets blow-dried. This process is repeated by about 20 to 30 times. The chewing gums do not shine yet. Special glowing pans are used for this. In these pans the top layer becomes polished so that the chewing gum looks nice and shiny.


The packing department.

The chewing gum is now ready to be packed. This takes place at the packing department. The chewing gum first arrives at the sorting machines. These machines pack the chewing gum in the strips and foresee it with a sleeve. After that the gum packs can be packed in boxes.