Have you ever thought about what a strange product chewing gum is? Imagine trying to explain it to someone from a few hundred years ago: “it’s this stuff you chew that tastes good, but isn’t food.” He would look at you like you just shat out the Pope. I can understand the appeal of gum chewing: it’s tasty, it satisfies the oral fixation, it makes your breath minty, and so on. If chewed occasionally and discretely, it’s a fairly benign habit, but this is not how most gum-chewers chew gum. Instead, they make constant smacking noises, their mouths perpetually agape and their jaws gyrating like a camel chewing its cud. What could be more vulgar?
Speaking of gum, does anyone remember Big League Chew? Apparently it still exists, though I suspect it had its heyday back in the 1980s, when I played little league baseball. What a great concept: foil packages filled with shredded gum that resembles chewing tobacco, clearly marketed to kids.
The stuff was (and presumably still is) delicious; the flavor only lasted about ten seconds, but those were the best ten seconds of my eight-year-old life. Once those ten seconds were up and the gum had acquired the flavor of silly putty, I’d stuff more into my mouth. After about three minutes, the package would be empty and I’d have a flavorless wad in my mouth the size of my fist. Ah, the pleasures of youth.