Someone offered me some gum today. It was a stick of New! Wrigley’s · Extra · Fruit Sensations · Long Lasting Fruit Flavor · Sweet Watermelon · Sugarfree Gum. Now, aside from having a name nearly as long as the phone book, the box was roughly the shape of a phone book, in miniature:


New! Wrigley's Extra Fruit Sensations Long Lasting Fruit Flavor Sweet Watermelon Sugarfree Gum

— But that’s okay. Not a problem. Not where I’m going today —

To continue: Not being a regular gum-chewer, the experience is a novel one for me. As I unsheathed this specimen from its gossamer-thin aluminum foil wrapper, I was confronted by a narrow sheet of gum a most unnatural shade reddish-pink; it was wholly unholy. Inserting it as quickly as possible into my mouth so as to avoid getting a headache from its unsettling visual vibrations, I was struck by a thought: Why do they bother to use those artificial colors in gum? After all, it spends most of its existence wrapped in foil or opaque paper (sometimes within a paper sleeve) which is in turn stored inside a paperboard packet or some other type of container. This stuff leads a very sheltered life, friends.

It’s exposed to fresh air and daylight for only a fraction of  a second before the  end-user top predator consumer pops it in her mouth and begins to mash it into an amorphous blob. Nobody ever unwraps assorted gum sticks and puts them in a bowl for when company comes over. Not much ‘playing’ goes on with gum between its debut and its oral introduction. So why bother with the color?

In fact, many parts of the gum color system doesn’t make sense. Some examples:

  • why is it mainly the ‘fruit’ flavors that get the treatment?
  • why is mint, which comes in more varieties in gum incarnation than any other (spearmint, peppermint, wintermint, doublemint, supermint, et al.) not green? You buy chocolate with mint filling, half the time it’s green. You buy mint chocolate chip ice cream, three-quarters of the time it’s green. But all gum mint varieties seem to be white, or whitish. Why?
  • Why is cinnamon gum invariably red when real cinnamon is a nice, warm brownish hue?
  • What is a juicyfruit and why is it grayish?

Yipes! Stripes!

It’s all too much for me to continue dwelling on. Give me some chocolate, please.