4 Steps to Make Bubble Gum:
Many manufacturers of chewing gum and gumballs choose to keep the specific ingredients of their sweet confections a secret. Yet, the process for making gum is standard throughout the industry.
1. Preparing the Gum Base
When natural rubber is used as the gum base, it must first be harvested and processed. Sapodilla trees are scored with a series of shallow Xs, which allows chicle to flow down the tree and into a bucket. After collecting a significant amount, the chicle is strained and placed into large kettles, where it is stirred constantly as it boils and reduces. The chicle is then poured into greased wooden molds and shipped. Both synthetic latex and natural gum bases are ground into a coarse meal and then dried. As the mixture dries, hot air is continuously blown onto it to help cook and sanitize the base.
2. Adding Flavor
Next, the gum base is heated to approximately 240 degrees Fahrenheit in large, steam-jacketed kettles until it melts into a thick, syrupy substance. The syrupy gum base is then filtered through a series of fine mesh screens and a high-speed centrifuge to further filter and clarify it. Next, while it is still hot, the chewing gum base is placed into large mixers with slowly revolving blades and flavoring ingredients are added, including fine sugar, corn syrup and other flavorings. Softeners are also added at this time. Once it is smooth, the chewing gum base is passed onto cooling belts and blasted with cool air to reduce its temperature.
3. Increasing Gum Chewiness
Once the gum is cool, it is then gently kneaded by special machines called extruders for several hours, which makes the gum smooth and rubbery. Large sections of gum are then cut and flattened by rollers until they reach the proper thickness. The thickness of the sheets is determined by the type of gum; stick gum requires the thinnest sheets while candy-coated gum needs thicker sheets and bubble gum requires the thickest sheets of all. When scored stick gum emerges from the rollers, it also gets sprinkled with pure powdered sugar to prepare it for cutting. The gum is then put aside to rest and set in a chilled room for at least 48 hours. Candy-coated gum is sometimes, after the storage period, undercoated to help the coating adhere more firmly.
4. Cutting and Packaging
Cutting machines score the chewing gum sheets in a pattern of rectangles, squares or pellets depending on the type of gum. The gum is then broken from its sheet into the correct shape and wrapped into their packaging (aluminum foil, wax or other paper), placed into packs and sealed. It is important to note that the packaging takes place under immaculate conditions as does the rest of the manufacturing process to ensure the gum products reach the consumer with all of its quality and purity fully protected.
Ever wonder how gum is made? Check out this video courtesy of the Science Channel: