Why Are Americans Giving Up Gum-Chewing?

Why aren’t Americans as interested in chewing gum as we used to be? Is it that we don’t want to spend the money, we have better ways to freshen our breath, it’s simply falling out of favor as a habit, or some combination of these factors? Are there simply not as many people around who are in the process of quitting smoking as there used to be?

The falloff in gum-chewing has been abrupt and recent: industry experts say that sales have fallen 11% in the last four years. You can’t blame economic factors: sales actually peaked in 2009 after the economic meltdown.

Maybe it’s just not as accepted as it once was. Not that some people ever thought it was acceptable to begin with. Especially people in the janitorial, maintenance, and etiquette fields. “My grandmother used to tell me, ‘You look like a cow chewing cud,'” Lizzie Post, great-granddaughter of etiquette icon Emily Post, told the Associated Press.

Candy-maker Mars, current owner of the Wrigley brand, say that their research shows the greatest gum declines have been among people ages 25 and under. Fewer of them are picking up the habit, apparently. Mints like Altoids have taken over the breath-freshening market, apparently: they offer all of the tastiness without the feeling that you’re gnawing on a piece of flavorless rubber that you later have to dispose of.


Maybe it’s because the youngsters of today didn’t grow up reading children’s magazines that featured ads like this one from 1982.

That’s probably just as well.

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