Gum Going Gourmet, Going Strong

Gum Going Gourmet, Going Strong

Food & Drink

Gum Going Gourmet, Going Strong

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By Cari Martens

What other food product category can boast it introduced 185 new flavor varieties last year?

That’s what happened in the world of chewing gum with 2008 sales totaling nearly $4.8 billion, up 6.2 percent from 2007, and up a whopping 24 percent since 2005. Sales are projected to exceed $5 billion this year.

This sweet little indulgence appears to be recession proof.

Today you can find gum in flavors such as blueberry-pomegranate, Kona coffee, anise, and mango-chili—as well as traditional favorites spearmint, peppermint and bubblegum.

Writing for Portfolio.com, Kate Murphy reports most of the sales growth since 2005 has been in sugar-free gums. Interviewed in the Portfolio article, Paul Chibe, vice president of North American consumer marketing for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., says inspiration for new flavors comes from popular beverages, food and cooking websites, and gourmet food stores.

Nostalgic flavors, some dating back to the 1800s, continue to have solid sales—flavors such as Adams Sour Cherry and Sour Apple, Black Jack, and Clark’s Teaberry (remember the Teaberry Shuffle TV commercial?)

Some of the recent success of gum undoubtedly comes as a result of research studies indicating that gum can help prevent tooth decay, whiten teeth, improve concentration, reduce stress, and aid digestion. That’s quite a list. Perhaps gum deserves a more prominent place on the Food Pyramid.

I try to keep gum in the car for those long road trips. I’ve found it helps me to fight off drowsiness.

I wonder…do schoolteachers still get ticked off at students who chew gum? Maybe they shouldn’t.

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