Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Coming to – and coming off — movie theaters near you soon

As movie theaters get ready for the holiday season, they will be thrilled to hear about the sneak preview of something great coming up.

Forget whether there’s a blockbuster on the horizon, a superstar signed up for a new movie, or some new technology that makes animation look even more lifelike than Michael Jackson: what will make the owners of theaters jump up and down for joy — because they can now do so safely without having to nervously glance first at the floor — is that researchers are developing …. wait for it … easily removable chewing gum!!!

(Extra exclamation marks seemed appropriate when talking about anything to do with movie theaters, either that or using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS THE GREATEST NEWS EVER! SHOCKING! DON’T WAIT! TELL OTHERS!!!)

The reason you need to wait for it is because this exciting development may need a bit more time to go from the research stage to when consumers help it to appear under a theater seat, on the sidewalk, in your dog’s hair or stuck in other inconvenient disposal places near you.

Why do people stick their gum in these places, and how much gum did researchers personally chew to test this gum will both remain questions to be tackled another day, along with how gum ho these researchers are about their job. Obviously they must like it if they stick with these jobs until they find results.

But getting back to the main topic: the company Revolymer is the one that is looking to produce the new polymer that is the modified gum base that will solve so many gum problems of the world. Large scale product is expected within the next three years in Mostyn, North Wales at Revolymer’s plant there.

“As well as making the gum easier to remove, we also are looking at ensuring we get the best flavor possible as well as taste retention, as such we wish to find the best formulation possible,” Roger Pettman, the company’s chief executive, was quoted in He added: “We are expanding to focus on the growing application of our polymers which have uses from not just the confectionery industry, but to medicines and even anti-graffiti paints.”

While people chew on those ideas for a while, perhaps they should be given some
facts that were published by Better Oral Health magazine about gum, using information from the Wrigley Company, which collected its information from the Chewing Gum Book by Robert Young.

There were great gobs of wisdom to be shared. (Note: The writer of this blog stuck some editorial comments to the facts. Who could resist?)

“To grow all the mint Wrigley needs for its mint flavored gums would take 53 square miles of farmland – about 30,550 football fields!” (Note the exclamation mark that was included. Feel the excitement?)

“The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company grows enough mint for the Spearmint gum to fill about 16,300 football fields in just one year and all of it is grown on U.S. farms.” (Nothing like linking farming and football, especially at this time of year.)

“Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gums are more than 100 years old. Your grandparents probably chewed these when they were kids!” (No mention is made of where our grandparents might have hid their gum.)

“Orbit was invented as a special wartime brand and was supplied to the Armed Forces, since it was recognized that gum eases tension, promotes alertness and improves morale.” (Perhaps every work place should include gum as part of the benefits package it offers employees each year.)

“People have chewed on natural materials for hundreds of years, including thickened resin and latex from certain trees, sweet grasses, leaves, grains and waxes.” (Perhaps these were the ancestors of current gum researchers. Imagine their first scientific exchanges: “I’m not chewing that. You chew it. You suggested it first.”

“Humans are the only animals on earth that chew gum.” (We might want to disagree with that statement, since we probably have all seen dogs chewing on gum they have sniffed out and gobbled off the ground. The sight isn’t pretty later.)

“Can you really remove gum from your hair with peanut butter? It has been proven that if you knead a small amount of peanut butter between your fingers and the gum, the gum will disperse enough so you can remove it.” (But then how do you get out the peanut butter?)

“A new study shows that chewing gum may help make people smarter by improving memory and brain performance. In tests scientists found the ability to recall remembered words improved by 35% among people who chewed gum, however it does not aid concentration.” (So teachers should let students chew gum in class?)

Alas, if the world does move indeed ahead with easily removable gum, there will be one downside to it all.

There are a few loyal MacGyver fans that probably recall the actor Richard Dean Anderson often using chewing gum to foil many a villain as he used it to get out of sticky situations. If this gum is no longer that difficult to grapple with as heroes battle to save the world, it really leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those disappointed television action show fans. Their bubble finally burst in believing a pack of gum could someday save their lives.

If anyone is interested in why a blog on agriculture is focusing on gum, it’s to support the mint growers that we have, such as Bill Smith of St Paul, Ore. who grew 260 acres of mint this year in the Willamette Valley. (For more on Smith, see
Capital Press article on him.)

Plus for Thanksgiving people may have been looking for a conversational topic (besides the weather) to share with all those relatives during those awkward moments between when the meal ends and the sports games start.


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