The Forest Scout

In Honor of Chewing Gum

Grace Bentley

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September 30th, 2016 is National Chewing Gum Day.

On the last day of our first month of the Forest Scout’s daily In Honor Of’s, we celebrate the sticky snack that produces a failsafe way to make friends, a minty burst of fresh air, and the only reason why we would ever put peanut butter in our hair.

Whether it’s holding out a stick of gum in an amicable way to make friends (or discreetly pulling a stick out of your bag to avoid the mad frenzy of neighbors clamoring for a piece), begging our parents to give us a quarter to buy a huge jawbreaker (that always seemed to end up in our hair in a gooey mess), or just looking for something to do with our mouths in the middle of class, we certainly love our gum.

Love it so much, in fact, that we’ve been eating it since the earliest of human civilizations. The ancient Greeks, for example, chewed on a delectable tree sap called mastiche, which provided a refreshing, piney taste. The Mayans, as well, chewed on chicle (which is literally the Aztec language Nahuatl translation for sticky stuff) to keep their breath fresh and to stave off hunger or thirst.

And besides from being a nice snack-alternative, all this gum chewing comes with other benefits as well: it has also been proven to increase alertness and reduce anxiety. Chewing has been shown to stimulate the senses–the movement of the jaw, the flavor (whether it be mint, fruit, or cinnamon) the sticky texture, the fresh smell–and this can arouse the brain and keep a chewer awake and alert. The action of chewing, as well, may be the reason for lowered anxiety levels: the muscle contraction fo the jaw stimulates the vagus nerve in the brain, which lowers the heart rate and leads to less levels of the stress.

So the next time you want an inexpensive de-stresser, easy stimulant, or just a fresh breath, look no further than a stick of Wrigley’s or Trident, and make sure to save some for friends! 

About the Writer
Grace Bentley, Author

Grace Bentley is a runner, writer, student, Target enthusiast, bad pun advocate, and avid sleeper among other things. She enjoys watching sunrises but highly dislikes getting up early in the morning (how she gets up for cross country/track meets, she’ll never know). Grace is currently a junior at LFHS, and lives in Lake Forest with her family and dog.

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