chewing gum, confection consisting usually of chicle, flavorings, and corn syrup and sugar (or artificial sweeteners). Prehistoric people are believed to have chewed resins. Spruce resin was chewed as a thirst quencher by Native Americans, from whom pioneers adopted the custom. Refined paraffin was later used and then chicle, which was probably first imported into the United States through Mexico. A chicle gum was patented in 1869 by William and Semple. In the present-day manufacture of chewing gum blocks of chicle are ground, melted, and cleared in a whirling vat, and then the flavorings (e.g., fruits, licorice, mints) and other ingredients are added. The gum is rolled through sheeting machinery and chopped into sticks or into candy-coated pellets. Insoluble plastics may be mixed with or substituted for the chicle. The United States is the major producer, exporter, and consumer, of chewing gum.
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