As soon as I got my first tooth, I fell in love with gum. At my grandparents’ summer camp, I  begged the boys « Got any gum? »  Then I swallowed it as fast as I could chew it until my parents forbid campers from giving me another stick.

If gum chewing contests existed, I would win. In grade school, learning to blow bubbles with a pink wad of Bazooka rated right up there with sinking my first jump shot. As a teen, chewing gum in class on the sly, made me feel rebellious. Before college basketball games,  I chewed bubble gum to psyche up before battle. After the French teacher caught me chewing gum in the language lab, when I supposed to be busy rolling my r’s, I learned to hate to parler francais.

bazooka advertisement

Remember good ol’ Bazooka Joe, who became one of the most famous 20th century advertizing characters for Bazooka gum marketed just after WWII in red, white, blue symbolized USA and patriotism

 

But the joke was on me – I wound up living in French speaking countries. When l first moved to Europe, gum chewing was a dead give away to one’s nationality, a trademark of being American like the stereotypical baseball cap and tennis shoes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZXRaVBf0pY

But, Le Frenchman I fell in love with considered it a disgusting habit, so I used to smuggle gum in my luggage on transatlantic flights. Now I purchase packets of my vice across the border in France, where surprisingly more gum is consumed than anywhere else in the world besides the U.S.A.

In June 1944, U.S. troops first brought chewing gum to France along with freedom. However, French chewing gum wasn’t launched until 1952 when former GI, Courtland Parfet, introduced the chlorophyll green mint stick, called Hollywood Chewing Gum.

Now  much to parents’, teachers’ and Le Frenchman’s chagrin, it turns out that gum was good for us along.

  • Recent US studies (where else in the world would analyze statistics about gum’s virtues) show that students who chewed a piece before exams increased the blood flow to the brain helping with memorization.
  • Chewing also calmly helps relieve stress and control appetite by reducing hunger.
  • The xylitol in gum helps stop the progression of cavities and inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Finally something taboo that is actually good for you. However, Le Frenchman under ze roof still finds my gum chewing revolting, so like the little kid at camp, I sneak gum into the house. The illicit activity only makes it more enticing.