Make Your Own
Chewing Gum Kit
Make your own chewing gum with chicle, the sap of the Sapodilla tree that grows in the rainforests of Central America. Everything you need is included in this kit and it's easy! You can make your own gum on the stove or with a microwave. Great for class room activities, scout troops, birthday parties, home school, or after school groups. Adult supervision is recommended. Makes a great gift for kids (ages 8 & up)!
Inside each Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit, you'll find: chewing gum base (containing natural chicle), confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, two natural flavors, a pan for softening the chicle gum base, instructions, and the story of chicle.
And it's really easy: Soften the chicle gum base, either in the microwave or on the stove. Then you add the sugar, corn syrup, and the flavor packets, knead it a little, and WOW! You've made your own gum! Each Gum Kit makes 30 – 50 pieces of chewing gum.
Chicle: The Sap Of The Sapodilla Tree
Once all chewing gum was made from chicle. That's the sap of the sapodilla tree, which grows in rainforest in Central America. Men called "chicleros" climb up the tall trees and, with their machetes, cut criss-crosses in the trunks so that the sticky sap flowed out. Then the chicle was processed and turned into gum.
Today, most chewing gum is made from synthetic stuff, but the gum base in this kit includes real chicle. So now, chicleros have a reason to harvest the chicle once again and protect their trees.
What Does The Gum Kit Have To Do With The Rainforests?
Eduardo The Chiclero - And The History Of Chewing Gum
Eduardo is a chiclero. That means that he taps Sapodilla trees and collects the sap from them. That sap is called chicle, and it's the stuff that used to be used all the time to make chewing gum. Nowadays, the gum we buy in stores is made from chemicals and synthetic gum bases, not chicle. That means that there is less work for people like Eduardo.
He lives in the Northern part of Guatemala, in an area called the Peten, which is a rain forest. It's hard to imagine how different life is there from life in the United States, but you can get an idea by thinking about the rain forest, filled with loads of different kinds of birds, animals, and trees. Because it rains so much, everything grows very quickly and there are plants everywhere. It is very beautiful with all sorts of different colors and sounds.
The problem with living in a rain forest is that it is difficult to make a living there, and it's hard to get around because there are only really bumpy dirt roads, and only a few of them. There are not many jobs, and many people are very, very poor. They chop down the trees in the forest to make gardens to grow some food, and some of them chop down the trees to sell for lumber. And, pretty soon, if all that chopping continues, there won't be a forest left at all.
The Sapodilla trees grow wild in the rain forest, and in order to get the chicle, chicleros tap them every 4 or 5 years; they do not chop them down. If more people chew gum made out of chicle, like in the GUM KIT, the people who live there would have a real reason not to cut down trees. It would make more sense to protect the trees, and tap them for the chicle they produce.
So that is where the GUM KIT comes in: The more gum you chew made from chicle, the more you help keep Eduardo employed in protecting the rain forest. The whole world thanks you!!!
CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR (SUGAR, CORN STARCH), CHEWING GUM BASE, CORN SYRUP, NATURAL CINNAMON FLAVOR, NATURAL CHERRY FLAVOR.
|Serving Size 1/10 oz (3.0g)||1 stick of gum|
|Servings Per Container||about 61|
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0 g||0%|
|Sodium 0 mg||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates 3 g||1%|
|Sugars 3 g|
|Protein 0 g|
|*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your calorie needs.|
Hi, and welcome to the sticky business of making chewing gum! It's going to be fun! And, easy - just follow these instructions. Make sure you do this with an adult because you have to use heat!
First, find a clean table top for making the gum. Next, find all of the parts of the GUM KIT:
chicle gum base (the stuff that looks like pellets)
2 flavor packets (cinnamon and cherry)
pan (for microwave or stovetop)
Note: the chicle gum base is very sticky stuff when it melts, which is why we have given you a pan to use when you heat it. Do not use one of your own pans- you will find it very difficult to remove the chicle gum base afterwards. We also recommend using the stove top rather than the microwave if possible!
And, here goes...
1) First, stand the pouch of corn syrup in a teacup and pour in enough boiling water so that the water level is about the same level as that of the corn syrup. It will flow out more quickly when it's hot.
2) Sprinkle about 1/2 of the confectioner's sugar onto the table in a small mound.
3) Melt the chicle gum base, either in a microwave or in a pot on your stove top (stove top is recommended!). For either method, pour the chicle gum base out of its plastic bag and into the black pan. (Do not use the transparent plastic cover).
If you are using a stove: fill a 2 quart pot with about 3 inches of water, and place the pan in the water so that it is floating like a little boat. Cover the pot and boil the water until the chicle gum base is entirely melted. (This can take as much as 20 minutes.) Then, remove the pan. This is the recommended method!
If you are using a microwave: BE CAREFUL- even though the pan is made for microwaving, it may melt if it gets too hot, so make sure to remove it as soon as the chicle gum base is gooey. Since all microwaves are different, we suggest setting the timer initially to 100% power for 1 1/2 minutes. Then stir the gum base and see if it is soft enough to work with. If it isn't, continue putting it back in for 30 seconds at a time and stirring to see if it's done.
4) Now cut the end of the pouch and squeeze the corn syrup into the chicle gum base. Stir up the mixture and empty it onto the sugar on the table. IT'S REALLY STICKY STUFF, ISN'T IT?
5) Knead it (a rolling and folding motion) just like you would with bread dough, and then divide the gum into two parts on the table. Add the contents of one of the flavor packets into each part.
6) Mix in the remaining sugar to both parts-keep pulling it, tugging it, and poking it, kneading it, whatever! It's worth the hard work!
7) Roll it out, just as you would with cookie dough. You can use anything, a rolling pin, of course, or even a can or bottle you have around the house. Just make sure it's clean, and sprinkle a bit of the sugar on it so that the gum won't stick to it.
8) Cut the gum into whatever size pieces you wish and chew a piece or two (or ten!)
9) Wrap up the remaining gum in aluminum foil or wax paper so that you can save some for later.
10) Clean up- If by chance you get some chicle gum base someplace it does not belong, do not panic. Try dissolving it in melted butter (not margarine) or using a commercial solvent.
Now that you know how easy it is to Make Your Own Chewing Gum from scratch, we know that you're going to want to make more!
Order a new kit for your friends, class, scout troop or your next birthday party: Order Now for only $13.95! They also make great gifts for kids (ages 8 and up)!
You can also order a Chewing Gum Refill Kit for only $6.95 (enough chicle gum base to make twice as much gum as was in the KIT and a new black pan to soften it)
I. Guide to Using the Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit with a Group
Verve's Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit can be a terrific, interactive classroom activity for a wide range of ages and class sizes. We provide a sample lesson plan intended for grades 6 – 8, but the kit may be used with children from age 5 up, with adult supervision. It has also been used to great effect with high school home economics classes and college science classes as a fun end-of-term project.
The Chewing Gum Kit relates to many topics, including rainforest ecology, social sciences, botany, geography, and more. We recommend using the kit in conjunction with our sample lesson plan, or creating your own lesson plan from the resources provided. With the tabs to the left, you can review the instructions and story that come with the Make Your Own Gum Kit. You can also find more info on our page for Educators.
Because this activity requires heat, a stove, hot plate or microwave is required. You will also need a cutting board (or other flat surface that can get dirty), spoons, a potholder, and a rolling pin or glass bottle.
The Gum Kit makes approximately 30 – 50 sticks of gum, depending how it is cut, so it provides plenty of gum for groups of up to 30 students. We recommend that the teacher or group leader heat the gum base and allow the students to help stir, knead and cut the gum. Older students may be allowed to work in groups to make the gum themselves, if appropriate.
II. Sample Lesson Plan for the Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit
6 - 8
Science/ Ecology, Social Science, Economics
Introduction: Flexible – 15 minutes or more
Movie: 18 minutes (optional, see Resources for more information)
Gum-Making Activity: 20 minutes
Clean-up and Assessment: 10 minutes
Students will learn about the rainforest and the people who inhabit it as they make a special treat – chewing gum! - with natural chicle harvested from rainforest trees.
Students will learn about the location, climate and ecology of the rainforest.
Students will understand that many products come from the rainforest.
Students will learn about people who live in the rainforest and how they make a living.
Students will discover why it is important to protect our rainforests.
Students will make their own chewing gum from raw ingredients.
Students will make connections between the rainforest and their own lives.
Images of the rainforest, its flora and fauna, etc.
Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit
Rolling Pin or bottle
Microwave or stove
A clean non-stick surface such as a cutting board
A few plastic spoons to stir with
Short documentary film "El Chicle" & a computer to play it on (optional; see our Educator's Guide for more details)
Chicle - The natural sap of the Sapodilla tree, which grows in the rainforests of Central America
Chiclero – A person who harvests chicle by tapping the trees, much like one "taps” a maple tree for maple syrup.
Slash-and-burn Agriculture - The practice of cutting down and burning rainforest trees to clear space in which to plant crops. This practice results in the destruction of the rainforest, and yields such poor soil for agriculture that not much can grow.
Begin by talking about the rainforest. Make sure to cover where rainforests are located, the climate, the diversity of the species that live there, and the many uses for rainforest products in goods like medicines, rubber, and food. Explain how the rainforests are being rapidly depleted through logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. Highlight the dangers of losing this valuable ecosystem. Feel free to use our website as well as the linked sites as resources for more information.
Next you can discuss peoples who live in the rainforest and the difficulties they face there in making a living. Explain how these people need a source of income that does not harm the environment in which they live. Tell your students about the chicleros and their traditional harvesting methods of the Sapodilla tree, methods that do not harm the trees and allow them to be tapped year after year. One option is to show the short documentary film "El Chicle” about the harvest of chicle in Mexico. (Please note: this film contains subtitles, and is not recommended for grades lower than 6.)
Explain to your students that the rainforest is the source for something they like to eat – chewing gum. Tell them that they are going to see how chewing gum is made from raw ingredients like chicle from the Sapodilla tree. Explain that the other ingredients – sugar and corn syrup – are also harvested from plants, and that these plants grow in the US. Explain how all of their food products come from different countries. If you have time to research in advance, you can even mark places on a large world map showing where different products are grown or produced, and the trade routes they use to get to us in the US.
Now, have the students use the Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit to make chewing gum! First, make sure to show the kids all of the raw ingredients so they understand what is going into their chewing gum. These kits require a stove or microwave, so for younger students, it is best if the teacher does the first steps requiring heat, then divides up the gum base for the students to knead and add flavoring to. Give each student some gum and flavoring, and have them roll out the gum and cut it into their own shapes. See instructions included in the Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit.
Have the students write a short paragraph explaining the connection between the chewing gum they made and the rainforest. Have them draw their own conclusions about why we should help protect our rainforests. For more of a challenge, have the students write about how the environment and the economy (or ways of making a living) are connected.
"El Chicle" DVD
18 minute film, in Spanish with English subtitles, about the harvest of chicle. Made in Mexico.
A great site, designed for kids, about Mayan culture. Includes information on chewing gum.
Plenty of background information about the rainforest.
Links to many lesson plans about the rainforest for all grade levels.
Stories of real kids who live in rainforests around the world. Other pages on this site have rainforest-themed crafts and activities.
Information on the history of chewing gum throughout the world.
• Heating the gum base in the microwave works well, but be careful not to overheat or you may melt the plastic pan. Mixing often is key!
• Be very careful when working with the gum base/corn syrup mixture, as it is very sticky. Knead the mixture with sugar until it is safe for the children to handle.
• Show the gum base pellets to the students so that they can see what the chicle looks like. With small groups, you can give a pellet to each student to chew.
• Read through all instructions before you begin so you know what to expect.
• For large classes, roll the gum into small gumballs to yield the most individual pieces of gum.
• If you'd like to experiment with other flavors, try powdered Kool-Aid and Jell-O packs.
• Check with parents to make sure all children are allowed to eat the final product.
• Have fun!
The Sticky History Of Chewing Gum
When you pop a piece of gum into your mouth, you're more likely to be concerned with its taste and bubble capabilities than with its history. But if you were to wonder about the origins of your gum, you'd have a lot more to chew on. The story behind chewing gum is a flavorful one, complete with an unlikely partnership between a famous Mexican general and an American inventor, wild get-rich-quick schemes, and the mastication habits of a lost civilization.
To trace the custom of chewing for pleasure to its source, we must look to the ancient Maya people of Central America. Originating in the Yucatan around 2600 B.C.E., they rose to prominence around 250 C.E. in the area now known as southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador, and northern Belize. Building on the inherited inventions and ideas of earlier civilizations like the Olmec, the Maya developed astronomy, an intricate calendar, and hieroglyphic writing.
The Maya were also noted for elaborate and highly decorated ceremonial architecture, including temple-pyramids, palaces, and observatories, all built without metal tools or use of the wheel. They were expert weavers and potters, and to hawk their wares they cleared routes through jungles and swamps, fostering extensive trade networks with distant peoples in the process. The Maya were equally skilled farmers, clearing large sections of tropical rain forest to plant food crops like corn, beans, and squash, as well as hemp, cotton and sapodilla trees.
The Maya boiled the sap of the sapodilla tree to a sticky mass, a substance we today know as chicle. For the Maya, its uses were many. They used it in making blowguns and as a strong glue in crafts and architecture. It was an article of trade and was frequently used in religious rituals. Maya boys chewed it, calling the stuff cha. The Maya abandoned their cities for mysterious reasons around the year 800 C.E., but fortunately for us, they retained their custom of chewing chicle.
Flash forward a few hundreds of years, because 1869 marks the year that modern day gum products were born. The famous Mexican General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (remember the Alamo?) was looking for a way to commercially exploit the properties of chicle. Unaware of its chewable virtues, Santa Anna originally hoped chicle could be exported as a rubber substitute. So he passed it along to American inventor Thomas Adams. Adams found chicle unsuitable as a base for rubber, but realized its potential as a chewing gum after boiling it and rolling it in sugar. His boiled chicle vastly outsold all other varieties of gum available at the time, and thus revolutionized the industry.
Though Adams can be credited with the invention of chicle-based chewing gum, it was William Wrigley who built an empire on it. By 1893 Wrigley contracted the Zeno Gum Corporation to make the two main brands still available today - Wrigley's ‘Juicy Fruit' and ‘Spearmint.' His marketing of these products was remarkably innovative and defiant of convention: a mile-long sign composed of one hundred and seventeen billboards between Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey, a huge collection of placards and electric signs in Times Square, and a campaign of free samples for millions of storekeepers and salesmen. The campaign was a resounding success, and the chewing of gum became a national addiction. The increasing consumption of chewing gum in the United States meant an increasing demand for chicle from the Peten.
Chicleros, or Sapodilla tree-tappers, began to immigrate into the region from neighboring zones such as Veracruz, Chiapas, Yucatan state and Belize. These workers in the forest economy began to enjoy greater economic freedom from the oppressive Mexican state and the Yucateca elite. Whole villages came to rely on the production of chicle; the village of Uaxactun, for example, arose around an airstrip that was visited daily by small aircraft from the Wrigley's company, collecting chicle for export to the Unite States. In 1943, México exported 8,165 tons of chicle to the United States, the largest amount in the industry's history. However, this boom was short lived; during World War Two, the shortage of chewing gum base forced manufacturers to develop synthetic gum resins, which gradually replaced chicle as a gum base. The market for chewing gum has grown remarkably through the years, from a yearly consumption in the United States of 39 sticks per person in 1914 to 200 sticks per person today. Gum made from synthetic materials makes up the majority of this expanding industry. However, chicle is still being harvested today in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico for use in high quality gums in Asia.
From September to January, a time of torrential rains in the Peten, skilled laborers called chicleros hike out to remote parts of the rainforest, seeking either virgin Sapodilla trees or those that were tapped many years prior. They climb up the long trunk of the tree and make a series of diagonal cuts with their machete, taking care to cut only deep enough to allow the white sap to bleed out, but not deep enough to expose the tree to insects or infection. The sap runs down the tree in the grooves cut out by the machete, and collects at the base of the tree in a small canvas sack left by the chiclero. At the end of the day, chicleros collect these sacks. Each tapping only yields about 2.5 pounds of liquid over a six-hour period, and a chiclero will tap 6-12 trees a day in order to make his quota.
The key ingredient to both Glee Gum and the Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit is chicle. Glee Gum is actually the only gum in the United States with chicle in its gum base. Using chicle in our Glee Gum and in our Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit helps protect the rainforest and provide sustainable subsistence for the people that live there. Without non-timber forest products like chicle, the trees in the forest would be cut down systematically, as their only commercial value would be as logs. So consider that the next time you choose your chewing gum, and chew-se wisely!