Gummers of the world take heed

by Ken Carpenter

I have been locked in a creative slump lately, but decided to break my chains and re-write a 2004 story on chewing gum. Don’t smack it, don’t stick it on anything and, above all, don’t chew Black Jack.

Cavemen were the world’s first gum chewers, and evidence indicates that they masticated tree resin for the pure enjoyment of it. When they weren’t chewing on each other, that is.
The oldest identifiable piece of gum is 9000 years old, and I bet it was at least as fresh as the petrified sticks of pink gum we used to get in our baseball cards. Before they started putting gum in the card packs in 1951 they included a single cigarette, much to the dismay of Mom’s everywhere.
Every society in history has routinely chomped on some kind of resin, sap or wax to exercise their jowls and freshen their sour breath. Given the horrible sounds that come out of many modern gum-chewers, I can only imagine the atrocious noises that came out of the supposedly less mannered chompers in the past. I am guessing that more than a few over-exuberant gummers were bashed or skewered in the old days for irritating or disgusting fellows who felt they should keep their darn smacking mouth shut when they chewed.
My own opinion is that a bashing or a skewering would not be out of line for somebody who smacks and pops their gum with an open mouth. Humans are not bovine creatures and they can’t use the excuse that they have a big old cud that needs chawed.
Some people chew their gum fiercely like they are mad at it and they are determined to make it suffer. If they were cannibals they could be gumming the gristly tendons of an especially hated enemy who had finally succumbed to their bushwhacking ways.
I have heard women who could make their gum pop like a pistol shot. The Queens of Gum Popping were the high school girls from the 60’s, who could have drowned out a fireworks display.
I have no idea how the queens decided that gum popping was cool, but they always seemed to be having a competition. I swear my ears still smart from the POP! POP! POP! of any female gathering over two from that era. There must have been some kind of opposite sex appeal thing going with the popping, but I was immune to it if indeed it existed. The whole thing was a little intimidating to me.
Bubble gum was invented by accident in 1928, and was an instant success. It is not with me though, for I am one of those who could not blow a bubble to save my life.
It’s not like I want to hold the world’s record, but it just seems like if a little kid can do something a grown man should be able to. By the way, my 1995 Guinness Book listed the world’s record bubble at a 23-inch diameter, and I don’t really care if there has been one bigger since then. Sniff, sniff.
A ‘Gumbug’ is a blob of used chewing gum, ‘Gumbugging’ is the unsociable disposal of used chewing gum where it can be viewed in public places, and a ‘Gumbugger’ is one who practices gumbugging. A good Gumbuggering with a five-pound cylinder of Gumbugged Gumbugs might dissuade them.
There is one place in the world that hates gumbugging with a passion nowhere else can rival. It is Singapore, where you can be imprisoned for importing chewing gum and fined $1000 for chewing it!
I can just see the shady gum dealers lurking on the side streets, sneakily opening their minty, green trench coats and flashing their chewy wares in hopes of enticing some poor soul down the Dentyne path to destruction.
The average American chews over 300 sticks of gum per year, and the gum companies sell over $2 billion worth of gum to Americans during the same span.
Interestingly, doctors in the 1860’s used to advise their gum-chewing patients to abstain unless they wanted their innards to stick together. I think my Mom used the same story to get us kids not to swallow our gum, and I haven’t swallowed any to this day.
I don’t use much, and the corporations who enrich themselves by wearing out people’s jowls would go broke if they relied on us who gnaw a dozen or two chunks a year. What I do chew is kept to myself, for I work at it with my mouth closed, I do not smack and slobber while I chomp it, and I couldn’t pop it if I was offered good money.
In truth my sparing use of chewing gum in any form can be piled high in front of the licorice flavored door of the murderous Black Jack. I almost gagged every time a fan of it walked up oozing wafts of licorice from their mouth and pores.
I hate black licorice above all other things except the New York Yankees. I wish all Yankees past and present could be lined up, coated with a diarrhea-textured soup of gummy black licorice and set free to scurry like addled Cane Toads on the infield grass in front of a packed Yankee Stadium.
On second thought, cancel the soup idea. I’m sure a horde of crazed, licorice-tongued, New Yorkers would charge onto the field and slurp their Yankees clean, much to the enjoyment of the lickees. Besides that, the mere thought of licorice soup is making me queasy.
Oddly enough, it was the pitiless and famous Mexican general Santa Anna, of the Battle of the Alamo renown, who was directly responsible for Black Jack. He was probably still pissed off about losing the Texas War of Independence, and wanted to dish up a serving of disgust to Americans.
Anyway, the former president was exiled from Mexico and he moved to New Jersey in 1869 toting along a ton of chicle. Long story short, he sold the chicle to a demented fellow who flavored a bunch with anisseed (which I regard as anus-seed) and in 1884 Black Jack became America’s first flavored and first stick form gum. Urp!
Declining sales, “Yay!”, caused it to be discontinued in the 1970’s. It was eventually re-introduced every few years, “Boo!”, and it still is. People who like to nauseate others can buy it online, only $55.17 for 20 five-packs.
In closing I would like to say that if I am ever elected dictator of the world anyone who chews their gum in a loud obnoxious manner will be sent to the plains of Texas on the next bus. Black Jack abusers would get Siberia. They can then spend eternity smacking at each other in the wide-open spaces.

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