Chewing gum

Until recently, free trade agreement between the United States and Singapore, the island state off the coast of Malaysia, kept sticking on one product: Chewing gum.
Singapore prides itself on its clean streets. And gum, no matter how you chew it, is messy. In 1992 Singapore officials decided enough already with the gummy messes around their country and completely banned the stuff from their country. Chewing gum in a public place became subject to a $1,000 fine.
That’s when the chewing gum negotiations began. Wrigley wanted to sell its gum in Singapore. However, no one in Singapore wanted to clean wads of gum off sidewalks, walls or trains. Neither does anyone in America, but that is beside the point.
As far as American gum manufacturers are concerned, Singapore’s professional cleaners, household advice columnists and mothers have escaped long enough from developing and discussing the techniques for cleaning gum off furniture, clothes and children.
Wrigley lobbied the U.S. and Singapore governments until Singapore officials relented – a bit. According to recent a story in Financial News, Can Heng Chee, Singapore’s ambassador to the United States said that “After a very serious and long process” of negotiation, the government’s health officials had agreed that Wrigley’s brand of sugar-free gums could be sold at drugstores – when prescribed for therapeutic chewing.
She said that three of gums’ ingredients, including the sweetener xylitol were deemed to have ‘therapeutic benefits,” although she added, “Frankly, I have no idea what they are.”
The National Association of Chewing Gum Manufacturers knows and lists the many benefits of chewing gum on their website as spat out below gum:
1. Relaxes and eases tension – during delicate free trade negotiations unless the negotiators fall asleep from relaxing effect of gum and the gum falls out of their mouth – and ends up stuck to their face and hair when the sleeper’s head thuds onto the table. In which case the Singapore gum police will descend and fine the sleeper $1,000.
2. Helps one stay alert and awake – in the wee hours of the night while working out the fine details of the gum trade agreement – unless the negotiators fall asleep from relaxing effect of gum and … see no. 1.
3. Moistens mouth – to allow another hour of arm-twisting discourse on the therapeutic benefits of gum.
4. Helps concentration – during yet another hour of arm-twisting discourse on the therapeutic benefits of gum.
5. Freshens breath – for one more in-your-face meeting to beg the Singapore government to allow Wrigley to sell the entire population of Singapore chewing gum.
6. Reduces ear discomfort when flying – to Singapore for gum negotiation session number 10,873.
7. Satisfies snack cravings – until the next coffee break scheduled during the ongoing international gum trade bargaining session: Pull out a foil wrapped stick of gum and be happy.
8. Cleans teeth after meals – a good thing because, who has time to brush when the business of selling gum is a stake?
In addition, a recent study by King’s College London suggests that chewing gum after a meal fights the acid reflux, i.e. heartburn, suffered by the chewing gum CEO’s who have suffered through 10 years of rejection by an important foreign market.
As well as the heartburn experienced by everyone who realizes how many hours and dollars were spent trying to sell a package of gum to the Singapore trade officials.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times.)