Freedent, the first non-stick chewing gum, was introduced by the Wrigley Company in 1975. Freedent was developed for those who can't chew regular gum due to dentures and dental work. As of 2010, Freedent is available in Canada, the U.S., France and New Zealand. Wrigley's Freedent gum comes in peppermint and spearmint. The ingredients of both flavors are nearly identical; the only difference is the peppermint or spearmint oil used for flavoring.
Both peppermint and spearmint flavored Freedent contain natural and artificial sweeteners. Sugar and corn syrup are the natural sweeteners, while acesulfame K, sorbitol and aspartame are the artificial sweeteners found in Freedent.
Acesulfame K is a potassium salt that is often blended with other artificial sweeteners to create a more natural sugar taste. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol derived from glucose, and is commonly found in diet soft drinks. Aspartame is a peptide that is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. In 2007, a medical review concluded aspartame to be "safe at current levels of consumption as a non-nutritive sweetener." But, due to phenylalanine being a by-product of aspartame's breakdown, those with phenylketonuria should avoid it.
Gum base is used to give chewing gum its plasticity and consistency, making it chewable. Freedent uses a gluten-free gum base recipe containing glycerol and soy lecithin.
Glycerol is a simple polyol compound that is used to soften and enhance texture in chewing gum. It has a sweet taste but doesn't raise blood sugar levels. In addition to chewing gum, glycerol is often found in cookies, cough syrup and bath soap. Soy lecithin is a fatty substance derived from soy beans used in chewing gum as an emulsifier.
The preservative used in Freedent chewing gum is BHT, or butylated hydroxytoluene. BHT is a synthetic, phenolic compound added to Freedent to preserve the gum's softness and elasticity. BHT is an antioxidant; it prevents the oxygen in fats and oils from oxidization, prolonging the shelf-life of the products it's used in. In addition to chewing gum and other foods, BHT is also used to protect the fats and oils in many cosmetics.
Mint oil is used in both peppermint and spearmint Freedent to achieve their respective tastes. Mint oil is a natural flavoring refined from mint plants through a process called fractionation. Fractionation alters the taste of mint oil, enhancing either its peppermint or spearmint flavor by reducing or eliminating certain components. The Wrigley Company uses 53 square miles of land in order to grow the amount of mint plants needed to flavor all of their chewing gum.
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