The center of the gum is gumbase. Originally, chewing gum began with the ancient Greeks, who chewed on mastiche tree sap. Natives and colonists of the Americas chewed sap from their own local trees: spruce sap in New England and chicle from sapodilla tress in Central America. Chicle was the first natural gum base and was combined with sugar and flavorings in the first chewing gum, known as Blackjack. These early ingredients remain constant in today's chewing gum formulas. Today's manufacturers of gum now use synthetic formulas of gumbase in their chewing gum. The five components of synthetic gumbase include elastomers for elasticity, plasticizers for softening, resins as binders, fillers for texture and antioxidants as preservatives. The gumbase is heated to 240 degrees F, at which it melts to a syrupy texture. This melted base is sent through filters and centrifuges to rid it of any particulate matter and to smooth out the texture.
Powdered sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners are mixed into the melted gum base. These provide both sweetness and texture to the finished product. Companies that use artificial sweeteners will often use several types in their gum. Among some of those used by the Wrigley company are Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Maltitol, Sucralose, Sorbitol and Xylitol.
Flavorings, Preservatives and Texture Agents
The first flavoring added to gum was licorice. Today, any type of flavoring can be used. Preservatives and agents to soften the texture of the gum are also added. These can include vegetable oil, sorbitol, mannitol and glycerin. These ingredients are combined with the melted gum base and sweeteners before the gum is cooled, flattened, shaped and packaged.
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