What is chewing gum made of?

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Chewing gum is composed of several key ingredients, including a gum base, sweeteners, softeners/plasticizers, flavors, colors, and typically a hard or powdered polyol coating1. The gum base, which makes up 25-35% of the gum's composition, is the main chewable portion of the gum. It is made up of three main components: resin, wax, and elastomer. The resin is the primary chewable part, the wax softens the gum, and the elastomers add flexibility14. The molecular composition of the gum base is very similar to that of plastics and rubbers1. In the past, gum base was made from natural substances like the latex sap of the sapodilla tree (chicle) or other tree saps. However, most modern gums use synthetic rubber or a combination of artificial and natural bases2. Polyisobutylene, a rubbery material also used in the manufacture of inner tubes, is a common synthetic equivalent used in modern gums5. Sweeteners make up a significant portion of the gum's composition, with sugar alcohols comprising 40-50% and artificial sweeteners making up 0.05-0.5%1. These sweeteners, which can include sugar, corn syrup, beet juice, xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, and aspartame, give the gum its sweet flavor2. Softeners, which can be glycerin or vegetable oil-based, are added to retain moisture and prevent the gum from becoming hard2. Other ingredients like flavors and colors are also added to enhance the sensory experience of chewing gum. The most commonly used flavors in chewing gums are peppermint, fruit, spearmint, and menthol2. Despite the presence of plastic-like substances in the gum base, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has evaluated the safety of many substances used to make up chewing gum base and determined them to be safe for use7. However, it's worth noting that the exact ingredients and proportions used in each brand's gum base are trade secrets within the gum industry1.
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