Sometimes while chewing a gumball, we stop to think about little things, like how are gumballs made and how do they squeeze all of that delicious gumball flavor inside and then shape it into a hollow ball. The process involves several fairly involved steps.
1. Start with the Gum Base
When natural rubber is used as the gum base, harvesting it is the first step. Sapodilla trees are scored with shallow Xs, allowing chicle to flow down the tree and into a bucket. Then it 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 to the factory.
Today, much gum base is made from synthetic materials. Regardless of origin, 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. Just like chicle, synthetic gum base is packaged and shipped to the factory, however, often in granule form.
2. Mix it Up
Chicle, whether natural or synthetic, is mixed with corn syrup and often glycerin by large paddles in huge vats until it looks smooth. The corn syrup and other ingredients help the chicle develop a great chewing texture. The gum is now gray, and a large, amorphous blob.
3. Extrude and Cut It Up
The large amorphous blob of gray precursor chewing gum is extruded into long, thin ropes just about the same diameter as the desired finished gum product. The ropes are very long and are then cut into bitesized pieces. Machines make the pieces round and then they drop onto a table that gently shakes them in order to reinforce the roundness.
4. Tumble It
There are two steps to tumbling gumballs, but both of them involve the gumballs having warm air blown on them to dry the material that is being added. First the gumballs are tumbled with outside sucrose coloring. This gives the gumballs their outside coloring. Finally, the gumballs are then tumbled in a beeswax or other wax coating to render them super shiny and attractive.
5. Wrap, Package and Distribute It
Machines finally wrap, seal, package and prepare the gumballs in their final packaging for distribution. From start to finish, the creation of gumballs has been sanitary within a fully automated system.