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Chew on this: Gum loses its pop

March 21, 2014 • Business


FILE – In this Sunday Oct. 24, 2010, file photo, a garbage bin sits full of bubble gum, at Yankee Stadium, in New York. U.S. gum sales tumbled 11 percent over the past four years. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Gum seems as appealing as that sticky wad on the bottom of a shoe these days.

It’s not that Americans don’t ever enjoy a stick of Trident or Orbit, the two most popular brands. They just aren’t as crazy about chomping away on the stuff as they once were, with U.S. sales tumbling 11 percent over the past four years.

No one in the industry can pinpoint a single factor that’s causing the decline — the theories include an unwillingness to shell out $2 or more for a pack in the bad economy or that advertising veered too far from underlining gum’s cavity-fighting benefits. But the biggest reason may be that people simply have more to chew on.

From designer mints to fruit chews, candy companies have invented plenty of other ways to get a sugar fix or battle bad breath and anxiety. The alternatives don’t come with gum’s unpleasant characteristics either, like the question of whether to spit out or gulp the remains. They’re also less likely to annoy parents, co-workers or romantic interests.

“You talk to someone and they’re just chomping on gum,” said Matt Smith, a 46-year-old who lives Albany, N.Y. and hates gum so much he refers to it only by its first letter. “If you substitute gum for any other food, like mashed potatoes, would you find that acceptable? It’s disgusting.”

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