Tension relieving to some, a disgusting habit to others, there is no denying that chewing gum is an everyday fixture in many of our lives.
Chewing gum isn't anything new. A 5,000 year-old piece of a modern equivalent of the sticky stuff (birch bark tar to be exact) was recently discovered by a British archaeology student while digging in Finland. It is believed the “gum” had a duel purpose – to heal mouth infections and to glue broken pots together.
Check out these 10 bizarre, head-scratching tales that involve chewing gum. Chew on that, why don't you?
1The wacky laws banning chewing gum
Most people know that chewing gum has been banned for years in Singapore. For those of you just discovering this, DON'T chew gum and ESPECIALLY DON'T litter the streets of Singapore with gum. That could get you a $500 fine, or worse…
It wasn't until 2004,12 years after the ban took effect, that it was lifted – sort of. Thanks to work of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. chewing gum company, and Washington D.C. lobbyist/ congressman Phil Crane, chewing gum can now be bought with a prescription from a doctor. Under the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the gum must have certain health benefits. No problem – a brand of the company's sugar-free gum contains calcium, which strengthens tooth enamel.
Certain parts of the United States aren't far behind in their silly gum laws. It is also illegal to leave chewing gum in public places in Cleveland, Ohio.
2The video game that requires you to chew gum to play
There are all kinds of weird video games out there in the world, but this game might just be the strangest. How about a video game which requires you to chew gum to control your character?
In 2013, a video company introduced the world to Gumulon, which features a green, slug-like, football helmet wearing character named Ace. To control Ace, you have to stare at your iPhone and chew in a variety of ways. The “better” you chew, the better the chance of Ace surviving being eaten by his evil, prehistoric-looking nemesis in the deepest bowels of a cave.
Side note: “Flirting with the monster causes him to throw salt and pepper at you, which means extra points," according to Gumlon's website.
3The football player that was arrested because of gum
Sadly, there have been many NFL players who have been arrested for a variety of reasons over the years. Jonathan Dwyer, Michael Vicks, Aaron Hernandez, and O.J. Simpson have all been charged with horrible crimes.
However, Jacksonville Jaguars starting cornerback Dwayne Gratz is noted for one of the most bizarre arrests – trying to pay with chewing gum.
In November 2014, an allegedly intoxicated Gratz was arrested in a Miami Beach store after trying to purchase items not with money, but with gum. After arguing with a store employee and refusing to leave, the athlete was taken into custody and charged with public intoxication and trespassing after being given a warning.
I guess Mr. Gratz shouldn't look for an endorsement from Juicy Fruit anytime soon?
4The thieves that stole chewing gum
In 2012, a wave of chewing gum robberies took place in England. In what sounds like a crime taken straight from the campy Batman TV show of the 1960s, one of the largest thefts of gum reported was £850 worth of the sticky stuff from a supermarket in Brough.
It turns out there are gangs of gum grabbers who steal the sweet treat to use as currency in Romania. Street vendors in the eastern European country use gum as change for their customers.
The largest theft reported in this series of gum crimes was at an Asda store in Grantham, and was totaled at £1,000. That's a lot of gum!
5The Mexican general who fought at the Alamo and introduced gum to the mainstream
Mexican general Antonio de Lopez de Santa Anna might be best remembered as the leader of the Alamo attack, but he also introduced chewing gum to society as we know it.
The prosthetic-legged general was captured by Sam Houston in 1836. While imprisoned, Santa Anna chewed chicle to calm his nerves. (Chicle is a dried sap that comes from a Sapodilla tree that grows wild in the jungles of Mexico, Central and South America.) After his life was spared and he was exiled to New York, Santa Anna brought chicle with him and chewed the gummy matter in front of inventor Thomas Adams. Adams tried and failed to use the chicle as a rubber substitute. After some time in New York, the Mexican general disappeared, and left Adams with the bill for storing it.
Adams experimented on the substance further; mixed it in hot water, rolled into little balls and sold it to a local drug store. The tasteless (at that point) gum was an immediate hit, and sold out quickly.
Adams was eventually regarded as the father of chewing gum and became a very rich man in the process. It is also reported that General Santa Anna never made a profit from Adams' chicle sales.
6The man who made aviation history with the help of gum
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made aviation history when he became the first person to fly a solo, nonstop, transatlantic flight from New York to Paris in his legendary Spirit Of St. Louis plane. This accomplishment captured the hearts of the world, and made him an international superstar.
During his journey, the odds were stacked against the aviator – he barely slept, went through severe rough patches of weather along the way, and lost contact with the world for 15 hours after flying past Newfoundland.
There was another matter Lindbergh had to correct on the checklist even before take off. He realized the compass was mounted too high for him to read, so he solved the problem by mounting a woman's compact mirror with gum as an adhesive.
Thanks to gum playing its part, Lindbergh made the 33 ½ hour flight across the Atlantic successfully and changed the course of history forever.
7The student who died from a gum explosion
In December 2009, 25-year-old, Ukrainian chemistry student, Vladimir Likhonos died at his parent's house after relatives heard what was described as “a loud pop.” After his parents rushed into his room, they discovered that the lower half of his face had been severely disfigured by the chewing gum blast, with his jaw blown completely off.
Forensic tests carried out on the chewing gum revealed an unidentified chemical substance. It is thought that the student had a habit of dipping his gum into powdered citric acid, and investigators believe that he may have mistakenly dipped the gum into the wrong substance, as the two powders appeared very similar, which led to the deadly explosion. “Anybody could have mixed them up,” said police spokeswoman Elvira Biganova.
8The actor who survived on gum and tea
If you've seen actor Jake Gyllenhaal in the film Nightcrawler, you will no doubt have noticed that the man has lost a quite bit of weight. The Brokeback Mountain star lost a whopping 30 pounds to play a deranged journalist in the 2014 film.
At the Toronto Film Festival, co-star Ritz Ahmal revealed Gyllenhaal lost the weight by existing on nothing but gum and tea. He described the actor chewing elaborately flavored “luxury” gum to trick his mind into thinking he had a meal while drinking one-calorie tea.
Was Gyllenhaal just trying to look scary for the part? Ahmal thinks that after having seen the film, it was a way for Gyllenhaal “to manifest the hunger and desperation in that character physically."
Hooray for Hollywood.
9The man who bid $14,000 on a piece of chewing gum
Some fans will do anything to own “a piece” of their favorite star. In 2004, pieces of pop star Britney Spears' discarded, chewed gum showed up on eBay. While most of the auctions didn't command too high of a price, one ended with a winning bid of $14,000.
The eBay listing featured pictures of the gum, a copy of a ticket stub from the place where the gum was discovered, and what the seller describes as “a personal story of procurement.” The gum was not accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
It was later reported the $14k winning bid of Britney's wad was driven up by one person, who bid against himself.
10The gum being developed by the Pentagon
It was recently reported the Pentagon is developing a special gum for the Army. Called “Combat Gum,” this product is a gum that “soldiers in the field can chew to kill disease-carrying bacteria and ward off expensive dental problems.” The gum also has the extra-strong plaque-fighting benefits of regular sugar-free gum.
With its"anti-microbial peptides,” this super gum could end up saving $100 million in dental services for the armed forces. The first phase of human testing has been completed, and the product has another year of testing before it will be distributed to troops.
Now, that's putting your money where your mouth is!