Chewing the fat about gum

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Study claims students allowed to chew gum scored higher

By John Pawlak

Two young adults sit alone, staring into each other’s eyes.  They move closer.  Closer.  
A smile slowly forms on their faces and the man reaches into his pocket to take out a packet designed especially for this occasion.  
But it’s empty!  His smile quickly morphs into panic.  He rushes to the pharmacy, but it’s closed.  He needs that packet.  His girlfriend won’t wait forever.  What is he to do?
And then he sees a friend in a nearby steamed up car, knocks on the window, and his friend gives him what he needs.  
Yes, his package of Dentyne minty fresh gum was empty, but now he’s properly equipped for the night.  He and his girlfriend snuggle back onto the couch as the background sings “Practice safe breath!”
Times have changed, haven’t they?  But not all that much.  Back in the late 60s, a 19-year-old Victoria Principal struts down a beach in her sexy two piece bathing suit.  
As she passes a pair of older women, the narrator says, “There’s Kathy.  Know what people say about her?”  Then one of the older women says with an envious smile, “She has the freshest mouth in town!”  
The sultry music continues as she gyrates slowly by a couple of young men who smile and say, “Freshest mouth in town!”
Yeah, it’s an old Dentyne commercial.  Get that tingle!  Brush your breath! Brush your breath with Dentyne!
It was a little less obvious, but the message is the same.  The news is she who chews gets wooed.
Chewing gum has been around for a long time.  Ancient Greeks chewed on tree resin (mastic).  The Mayans chewed tree sap (chicle).  In fact, the chewing gum Chicklets got its name from chicle.  
I wonder if any surviving Mayans could sue for patent infringement?
When my father was a young boy, he had no money and so he and his friends chewed tar.  They would break off a hunk from a tar barrel and masticate away.  It sounds disgusting, but on the positive side, he could honestly tell his teacher that he wasn’t chewing gum!
 So why my sudden interest in chewing the fat about chewing gum?  Well, I was reading a news report on how chewing gum makes kids smarter.  A study claims that students who were allowed to chew gum got higher grades on their tests.  
This type of report makes for good news press and the media quickly jumped on it, proclaiming the virtues of cravenly chewing chicle in classrooms.  What they failed to report was that the study was funded by the Wrigley gum company.  Chew on that for a while.
 Studies have been performed to demonstrate the dental benefits of chewing gum.  
Other studies have demonstrated the benefits of chewing for digestive aids, stress management, improving memory, managing weight, and even increasing strength.  
And yet another study was done to determine if chewing gum enhances postoperative recovery from intestinal resections. Boy, you have to wonder how you get jobs like this.
 Look, if you drop a hammer on your foot, it makes it smart.  
Why hasn’t Craftsman tool company funded a research on head bludgeoning?
Okay, back to chewing gum.  In addition to being found on sidewalks and under desktops at school (hasn’t anyone ever heard of a trash can?), chewing gum can also be found in the political scene.  
Just last month, political pundits chewed the fat about President Obama chewing gum during memorial services held in Joplin, Mo.  
It turns out that he was in fact chewing gum, nicotine gum.  
In retrospect, it would have been worse if he had lit up a stogie during the services.
 So chewing gum makes you smarter, cleans your teeth, and makes southern cops with mirrored sunglasses look extremely intimidating.  Given that I wouldn’t stop President Obama from chewing gum in my classroom, nor would I chastise an Alabamian policeman about spewing his mint flavored saliva as he writes me a ticket, maybe I should allow my students to chew a stick?
No, I don’t think so.  Not until they learn what a trash can is.
 John Pawlak
 Los Alamos columnist