Does Bubble Gum Expire?
It’s not unusual to find a stray piece of wrapped gum at the bottom of a bag and wonder, can I chew this? The answer is bubble gum technically does not expire. Since bubble gum doesn’t have a lot of moisture, it’s highly unlikely to develop mold or bacteria like standard old or stale food products do.
Bubble gum is also non-reactive. Non-reactive substances don’t interact much with other substances which is great as it lowers the expiration risk of certain foods or treats. If the gum isn’t likely to chemically change, it can’t really turn into anything that will hurt you.
Essentially, gum’s shelf life will depend on the storage conditions. If an old pack of chewing gum is fully sealed and the gum package is clean, odds are it’s fine to put in your mouth.
Old gum is safe to eat in most circumstances, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good chewing experience due to the texture or taste.
How Long Can Gum Last?
How long gum can last depends on personal taste. Since it’s not dangerous to chew expired gum, it comes down to texture and flavor.
If a stick of gum has a listed expiration date, that date is probably a good predictor of when the flavor and texture of the gum might start depreciating. For people who are less picky about their bubble gum quality, the gum could still taste okay about three months past the listed expiration taste.
Technically, most bubble gum won’t decompose for about five years. That’s a really long time to test your limits for stale gum!
How Do You Know If Gum Is Expired?
You can tell if gum is expired based on the gum’s texture and taste.
- Expired gum will be brittle and have very little chew or stretch.
- It may have a solid, chalky, or crumbly feel in your mouth (I’ve had this happen to me as a kid, especially with old baseball card packs with stick gum inside.)
- Expired gum usually loses its flavor. If you chew gum and don’t taste any flavor, it’s probably expired.
- The very light powdered sugar or white coating on stick gum in some toys, baseball card packs, or trading card packs may be missing due to degrading over time.
- Regular bubble gum types that are ordinarily soft (think Bubble Yum or others) may be hard to chew and not seem “right.”
Unfortunately, gum doesn’t visually change much, if at all, in most cases when it’s expired. If you doubt a stick of gum’s freshness, your options are to throw it out or try it out.
How Long Should You Chew Gum?
Most dentists recommend limiting gum chewing to 15 to 20 minutes at a time. If you chew gum too much you’ll exhaust your jaw which can lead to health issues in your jaw joints and muscles.
Additionally, gum usually starts to lose its flavor after about 15 minutes, so there’s not much reason to extend the gum chewing experience beyond that. I too enjoy bubble gum or sugar-free chewing gum but eventually, I’ve given up on chewing it for way too long – once it loses its flavor I personally begin to lose interest.
Why Does Gum Lose Its Flavor?
Gum loses its flavor as you chew it because you are digesting the sweeteners and flavoring inside the gum.
While you chew bubble gum, your saliva will break down some of the sweeteners and flavors in the gum, and you will swallow them into your digestive system. In other words, as you taste the flavor, you are breaking it down and making it disappear.
That’s especially true since it’s being coated in your mouth’s saliva which also helps to wash away flavoring exposed as your teeth turn through the gum substance. Once you have consumed all of the flavorings, the only substance left is the gum base and softeners.
If the gum no longer has any taste, it’s a good sign that it is time to spit it out and wait until next time or start with a fresh piece.