Taking the Plastic Out of "Gum Base"
It’s a sobering moment when you realize you’ve been chewing on plastic.
For me, that moment came after lunch with my friend (and now business partner) Ken Seiff. We’d just wrapped up at my favorite vegan spot when he offered me a piece of gum.
Maybe it was because I had just finished a kale and cucumber pressed juice, but the florescent blue stick in front of me suddenly looked strange and unnatural.
“It’s amazing that no one has created a premium gum yet,” Ken pointed out as I unwrapped my piece. I continued to examine the gum, noticing for the first time it’s overpoweringly artificial scent. It seemed foreign. What is this stuff?
I’ve long been a supporter of eating and living all-naturally – my first company, Truth Art Beauty, a custom skincare line, was 100 percent natural – so I instinctively grabbed the package of gum to read the ingredients. Some I recognized (aspartame), while others were vague (“gum base”?). I made a mental note to do some gum research when I got home. It turns out that gum is entirely synthetic. In fact, two of the main ingredients used – aspartame and BHT – are potential toxins, the latter having been banned in parts of Europe and Asia. But what I learned next, concerned me the most.
The gum industry isn’t even required to list all of its ingredients on its labels. “Gum base” is a catchall phrase for up to 80 synthetic substances, including the same chemicals that are used to make plastic bottles and white glue.
This is what I’ve been chewing all these years? Plastic? Artificial chemical compounds so unsavory that they are hidden by the industry in the term “gum base”?
I had reduced my use of plastic in food and beverage containers for the sake of the environment, but here I was, chewing plastic gum every day. “Gum base,” which sounded totally harmless, was definitely not. I was horrified.
To my surprise, I couldn’t find a single all-natural gum on the market. I called Ken right away to tell him what I had learned. His reply was quick: “Let’s solve this – let’s make a better gum.” And with that, Simply Gum was born. Over the next several months, we created a recipe that contains only six natural ingredients, all of which are listed on our label. We use natural chicle – which is biodgradable – as our base. And because chewing on a bright blue wad of plastic isn’t as cool as it sounds, we kept the gum looking as simple as it’s all-natural ingredients: small, hand-crafted pieces, with no artificial colors or coatings.
To match what’s inside, we designed a beautiful, recyclable paper package that we would be proud to carry around and share.
Consumers have a right to know what is going into their products and into their bodies, and this belief drives everything we do. We hope that, piece-by-piece, we can be kinder to ourselves and to the environment. Here’s to a better chew.
Simply Gum is sold online and at select retailers in New York City. Learn more and order at simplygum.com.
The Hammock Company Fighting Malaria (From Mom and Dad’s House) Greg McEvilly built a company that produces mosquito-proof hammocks while sleeping under his parents’ roof.
Why Do Happy People Make The Suburbs Look Even More Depressing? There’s a reason engagement photos aren’t normally taken where the couple actually plans on living
Keeping a Pakistani Artisan Culture from Going Extinct Lahore-based social entrepreneurs support local craftsmen by selling men’s shoes named after an endangered goat
Can You Cut Your Water Consumption by 90 Percent for 24 Hours? A nonprofit challenges people to live off a gallon of water a day, instead of dumping it on their heads
A Love Letter to Philadelphia A personal look into the city from the local poet, muscian, singer, and educator
You Can’t Print a Photo from Outer Space On Polyester Celine Semaan Vernon’s new fashion project is a cosmic experiment in empathy.
Forget the Ouija Board If you want to get into divination this Halloween season, check out these alternatives to the game that rhymes with ‘squeegee’
The Standards are Too Damn High An African leadership prize that frequently has no winners has sparked a debate over whether standards of excellence can turn self-defeating.
Stop Chasing the “It” Pumpkin One man’s brave stance against pricey heirloom gourds fouling up fall.
Skid Row Is Here to Stay The largest, and probably proudest, homeless community in the United States is becoming a powerful interest group in Los Angeles.
How to Raise $750,000 for Charity, the YouTuber Way Rising YouTube sensations like Tyler Oakley and Connor Franta mobilize their massive fan base for a cause Next time your birthday rolls around, consider what these enterprising stars did to celebrate theirs.
Chelsea Handler Tries Making Fun Of Andy’s Weight. It Backfires Immediately. An embarrassingly bad attempt to make fun of Andy’s weight