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Taking the Plastic Out of "Gum Base" Taking the Plastic Out of "Gum Base"
Business

Taking the Plastic Out of "Gum Base"

by Caron Proschan

January 4, 2014

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.

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