The 411 on gum

People have been chewing gum for ages, but they have always had rules about where it is socially acceptable.

Work Smart, Live Smart

People have been chewing gum for ages, but they have always had rules about where it is socially acceptable.

Chewing gum may seem like a relatively modern practice, but it was actually first introduced by the Aztecs and Mayans. These ancient people learned that by extracting chicle, a rubber-like resin from the sapodilla tree, they could create a chewable substance that cured toothaches.

 The Aztecs were the first to discover the breath-freshening properties of gum, and they even had rules about its social acceptance. Only children and single women were allowed to chew chicle in public, but married women and widows could use it in private to freshen their breath. Men were told to chew in secret to clean their teeth. In North America, natives chewed spruce tree resin, and when the Europeans came over, it stuck. Today, more than 100,000 tons of chewing gum are consumed per year.

 Like the Aztecs, people today have some qualms about how they chew their gum and rules about where it is respectable to do so remain. There are no gender limitations for the substance, but in certain situations people haven’t deemed chewing gum appropriate. According to The Classy Lady, you should avoid chewing gum during any professional meetings, during church, at job interviews and in any working environment where you’re in constant contact with customers or clients.” This includes therapists, professors, teachers, counselors, professional speakers, instructors, trainers, singers, performers and clergy. “Even doctors, dentists or lawyers will have a more polished and professional appearance without the chomping of gum,” she added. By not chewing gum in these settings, one can retain a professional and respectful persona. Case in point, if someone walked into a job interview smacking gum, it would be unprofessional and they probably wouldn’t get the job.    

 Gum chewing is a habit that can be both helpful and hurtful. Though it can relieve heartburn, alleviate bad breath, and provide a mindless activity for weight loss, it can also wear out your jaw and cause tooth decay.

 Gum has had many uses over a long period of time, but it has always been a bit less than socially acceptable in certain settings. Consider this in the future to avoid sticky situations.