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Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit

Manufacturer: Glee Gum

Model Number: 20030

Recommended Age: Ages 8 and up

Availability: In stock



Shipping Weight: 12 ounces

Model Number: 20030

Product Dimensions: 5 x 2 x 6 inches



Make your own chewing gum with chicle, the sap of the Sapodilla tree that grows in the rainforests of Central America. Everything you need is included in this kit from Glee Gum, the makers of natural chewing gum. You can make your own gum on the stove or with a microwave. Great for class room activities, scout troops, birthday parties, home school, or after school groups. Adult supervision is recommended.

Inside each Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit you'll find: chewing gum base (containing natural chicle), confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, natural cinnamon and cherry flavors, a pan for softening the chicle gum base, instructions and the story of chicle.

And it's really easy: Soften the chicle gum base, either in the microwave or on the stove. Then you add the sugar, corn syrup, and the flavor packets, knead it a little, and WOW! You've made your own gum!


The Sticky History Of Chewing Gum:
When you pop a piece of gum into your mouth, you're more likely to be concerned with its taste and bubble capabilities than with its history. But if you were to wonder about the origins of your gum, you'd have a lot more to chew on. The story behind chewing gum is a flavorful one, complete with an unlikely partnership between a famous Mexican general and an American inventor, wild get-rich-quick schemes, and the mastication habits of a lost civilization.

To trace the custom of chewing for pleasure to its source, we must look to the ancient Maya people of Central America. Originating in the Yucatan around 2600 B.C.E., they rose to prominence around 250 C.E. in the area now known as southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador, and northern Belize. Building on the inherited inventions and ideas of earlier civilizations like the Olmec, the Maya developed astronomy, an intricate calendar, and hieroglyphic writing.

The Maya were also noted for elaborate and highly decorated ceremonial architecture, including temple-pyramids, palaces, and observatories, all built without metal tools or use of the wheel. They were expert weavers and potters, and to hawk their wares they cleared routes through jungles and swamps, fostering extensive trade networks with distant peoples in the process. The Maya were equally skilled farmers, clearing large sections of tropical rain forest to plant food crops like corn, beans, and squash, as well as hemp, cotton and sapodilla trees.

The Maya boiled the sap of the sapodilla tree to a sticky mass, a substance we today know as chicle. For the Maya, its uses were many. They used it in making blowguns and as a strong glue in crafts and architecture. It was an article of trade and was frequently used in religious rituals. Maya boys chewed it, calling the stuff cha. The Maya abandoned their cities for mysterious reasons around the year 800 C.E., but fortunately for us, they retained their custom of chewing chicle.

Flash forward a few hundreds of years, because 1869 marks the year that modern day gum products were born. The famous Mexican General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (remember the Alamo?) was looking for a way to commercially exploit the properties of chicle. Unaware of its chewable virtues, Santa Anna originally hoped chicle could be exported as a rubber substitute. So he passed it along to American inventor Thomas Adams. Adams found chicle unsuitable as a base for rubber, but realized its potential as a chewing gum after boiling it and rolling it in sugar. His boiled chicle vastly outsold all other varieties of gum available at the time, and thus revolutionized the industry.

Though Adams can be credited with the invention of chicle-based chewing gum, it was William Wrigley who built an empire on it. By 1893 Wrigley contracted the Zeno Gum Corporation to make the two main brands still available today - Wrigley's ‘Juicy Fruit' and ‘Spearmint.' His marketing of these products was remarkably innovative and defiant of convention: a mile-long sign composed of one hundred and seventeen billboards between Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey, a huge collection of placards and electric signs in Times Square, and a campaign of free samples for millions of storekeepers and salesmen. The campaign was a resounding success, and the chewing of gum became a national addiction. The increasing consumption of chewing gum in the United States meant an increasing demand for chicle from the Peten.

Chicleros, or Sapodilla tree-tappers, began to immigrate into the region from neighboring zones such as Veracruz, Chiapas, Yucatan state and Belize. These workers in the forest economy began to enjoy greater economic freedom from the oppressive Mexican state and the Yucateca elite. Whole villages came to rely on the production of chicle; the village of Uaxactun, for example, arose around an airstrip that was visited daily by small aircraft from the Wrigley's company, collecting chicle for export to the Unite States. In 1943, México exported 8,165 tons of chicle to the United States, the largest amount in the industry's history. However, this boom was short lived; during World War Two, the shortage of chewing gum base forced manufacturers to develop synthetic gum resins, which gradually replaced chicle as a gum base. The market for chewing gum has grown remarkably through the years, from a yearly consumption in the United States of 39 sticks per person in 1914 to 200 sticks per person today. Gum made from synthetic materials makes up the majority of this expanding industry. However, chicle is still being harvested today in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico for use in high quality gums in Asia.

From September to January, a time of torrential rains in the Peten, skilled laborers called chicleros hike out to remote parts of the rainforest, seeking either virgin Sapodilla trees or those that were tapped many years prior. They climb up the long trunk of the tree and make a series of diagonal cuts with their machete, taking care to cut only deep enough to allow the white sap to bleed out, but not deep enough to expose the tree to insects or infection. The sap runs down the tree in the grooves cut out by the machete, and collects at the base of the tree in a small canvas sack left by the chiclero. At the end of the day, chicleros collect these sacks. Each tapping only yields about 2.5 pounds of liquid over a six-hour period, and a chiclero will tap 6-12 trees a day in order to make his quota.

The key ingredient to both Glee Gum and the Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit is chicle. Glee Gum is actually the only gum in the United States with chicle in its gum base. Using chicle in our Glee Gum and in our Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit helps protect the rainforest and provide sustainable subsistence for the people that live there. Without non-timber forest products like chicle, the trees in the forest would be cut down systematically, as their only commercial value would be as logs. So consider that the next time you choose your chewing gum, and chew-se wisely!

1) First, stand the pouch of corn syrup in a teacup and pour in enough boiling water so that the water level is about the same level as that of the corn syrup. It will flow out more quickly when it's hot.

2) Sprinkle about 1/2 of the confectioner's sugar onto the table in a small mound.

3) Melt the chicle gum base, either in a microwave or in a pot on your stove top (stove top is recommended!). For either method, pour the chicle gum base out of its plastic bag and into the black pan. (Do not use the transparent plastic cover).

If you are using a stove: fill a 2 quart pot with about 3 inches of water, and place the pan in the water so that it is floating like a little boat. Cover the pot and boil the water until the chicle gum base is entirely melted. (This can take as much as 20 minutes.) Then, remove the pan. This is the recommended method!

If you are using a microwave: BE CAREFUL- even though the pan is made for microwaving, it may melt if it gets too hot, so make sure to remove it as soon as the chicle gum base is gooey. Since all microwaves are different, we suggest setting the timer initially to 100% power for 1 1/2 minutes. Then stir the gum base and see if it is soft enough to work with. If it isn't, continue putting it back in for 30 seconds at a time and stirring to see if it's done.

4) Now cut the end of the pouch and squeeze the corn syrup into the chicle gum base. Stir up the mixture and empty it onto the sugar on the table. IT'S REALLY STICKY STUFF, ISN'T IT?

5) Knead it (a rolling and folding motion) just like you would with bread dough, and then divide the gum into two parts on the table. Add the contents of one of the flavor packets into each part.

6) Mix in the remaining sugar to both parts-keep pulling it, tugging it, and poking it, kneading it, whatever! It's worth the hard work!

7) Roll it out, just as you would with cookie dough. You can use anything, a rolling pin, of course, or even a can or bottle you have around the house. Just make sure it's clean, and sprinkle a bit of the sugar on it so that the gum won't stick to it.

8) Cut the gum into whatever size pieces you wish and chew a piece or two (or ten!)

9) Wrap up the remaining gum in aluminum foil or wax paper so that you can save some for later.

10) Clean up- If by chance you get some chicle gum base someplace it does not belong, do not panic. Try dissolving it in melted butter (not margarine) or using a commercial solvent.

Lesson Plan:
Verve's Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit can be a terrific, interactive classroom activity for a wide range of ages and class sizes. We provide a sample lesson plan intended for grades 6 – 8, but the kit may be used with children from age 5 up, with adult supervision. It has also been used to great effect with high school home economics classes and college science classes as a fun end-of-term project.

The Chewing Gum Kit relates to many topics, including rainforest ecology, social sciences, botany, geography, and more. We recommend using the kit in conjunction with our sample lesson plan, or creating your own lesson plan from the resources provided. To review the instructions and story that come with the kit, go to the Make Your Own Gum Kit main page of You may also find the story “The Sticky History of Chewing Gum” and supplemental essays “The Gleeful Truth About Chicle and Sustainability” and "The Rainforest in Peril" to be helpful.

Because this activity requires heat, a stove, hot plate or microwave is required. You will also need a cutting board (or other flat surface that can get dirty), spoons, a potholder, and a rolling pin or glass bottle.

The Gum Kit makes approximately 30 – 50 sticks of gum, depending how it is cut, so it provides plenty of gum for groups of up to 30 students. We recommend that the teacher or group leader heat the gum base and allow the students to help stir, knead and cut the gum. Older students may be allowed to work in groups to make the gum themselves, if appropriate.

Chicle - The natural sap of the Sapodilla tree, which grows in the rainforests of Central America
Chiclero – A person who harvests chicle by tapping the trees, much like one "taps” a maple tree for maple syrup.
Slash-and-burn Agriculture - The practice of cutting down and burning rainforest trees to clear space in which to plant crops. This practice results in the destruction of the rainforest, and yields such poor soil for agriculture that not much can grow.