Wonder Why Wednesday: The Truth About Gum

Comedian Jim Gaffigan is well known for his fondness of eating. He even wrote a book titled Food: A Love Story. Gaffigan says that most of his day is spent thinking about eating. “And when we’re not eating, we’re chewing gum,” he says. “We’re literally practicing chewing.”

I like the idea of gum being a training tool used to practice chewing. Gum often gets a bad rap. And there is one big reason why…

We’ve all heard it. If we swallow our gum it will stay in our stomach for seven years. That is a famous legend, but it is true? Let’s find out in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday.

Wonder Why Wednesday: The Truth About Gum

Before we tackle the tale of the digestion of gum, let’s take a look at gum’s history. According to, researchers found lumps of tar with human teeth marks in them dating back 7,000 years. Who knew gum was so old? Modern gum appears to have been popularized in the 1860s by Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa and Thomas Adams.

Now on to the reason we are all here. Does gum really stick around in our guts for seven years?


According to the magazine Scientific American, Pediatric gastroenterologist David Milov says, “with complete certainty” that gum does not stay in you for seven years.

Once it is swallowed, gum is subjected to the same treatment as any other food. After it is recognized as useless by our digestive system, gum travels the same path as all other waste products.

So why does gum always associated with this urban legend? It is unclear. Even as evidence is reveals to conflict this folklore, the rumor won’t go away.




Photo credit: Wikipedia