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The 9 craziest uses of gum in history

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Photos by Anthony Humphreys

Trident’s been super-useful since 1960 by helping fight against cavities, but gum’s been around since at least 5000 BC, the date archaeologists pinned to a glob of chewable Neolithic bark-tar they found in the Finnish municipality of Yli-li -- which is impossible to say while chewing gum. Since then, people have done some pretty insane stuff with everybody’s favorite jaw exerciser. Here’s our top nine.

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Romanians use gum as elastic currency
In January 2012, English shopkeepers started noticing a disturbing pattern involving packages of chewing gum going missing in bulk. Localized chicanery from ne’er-do-well teens? How about international economic reinvention? Turns out “gum gangs” were moving the contraband to Romania, where shopkeepers were using it as small change. In defense of gum-as-currency, it will always bounce back from a recession.

An artist used it to recreate your face
A New York artist took pieces of gum found on the street, and, by extracting the DNA from the still present saliva, created 3-D printed models of the faces of the people who might have been chewing it -- so basically, you just spit yourself out on the sidewalk.

Santa Anna tried to fund the overthrow of Mexico City with it
In his twilight years, the man who took down the Alamo and rocked a prosthetic leg like nobody’s business turned into a gum salesman. Exiled following a disastrous coup, the general unsuccessfully attempted to raise money for a second attempt by selling chicle as a rubber substitute to American investors in Staten Island.

Some scientist is reshaping the future with it!
If one of America's leading... gumologists has his way, the battery of the future will look less like the thing in your phone and more like the thing in your mouth. His innovation: a stretchable, smashable, twistable substance that has all the conduction of the liquid electrolytes in traditional lithium ion batteries without the leakage issues, partly because it’s twice as sticky as regular gum -- so yeah, don’t get it on your shoe.

A country singer rode gum into legendary status
One of country music's earliest stars launched his career with a smash 1924 hit about a woman who apparently chewed a ton of gum. Gotta say, it is a pretty weird song, but it eventually helped secure him hall-of-fame status alongside the all-time greats, so maybe today's country songwriters should sub out the pickup trucks for some spearmint.

An astronaut smuggled it into space
Gum aficionados may know that Trident was an official provision aboard the Gemini V space mission. What they might not know is that it was already shot into the stratosphere two months earlier on Gemini IV, when an intrepid astronaut who would not be denied flavorful refreshment turned gum into the first known example of "space contraband".

One stallion made history with it
Ninety-eight pieces of gum. That’s how many one crazy dude heroically fit in his mouth, a feat that earned him an official world record, smashing the previous high of 86 pieces.

One Casanova landed a legendary lady with it
When asked how her husband of almost 60 years won her heart, the British wartime singer and actress known as “The Forces’ Sweetheart” said, “I don’t think I thought much of him at first. He wooed me with chewing gum.” Even more impressive for gum: her husband played the saxophone.

One guy made it the chewiest. Memento. Ever.
Sometimes, a snapshot just isn’t going to cut it. Just ask the dude who spent a cool $14k on a gob of pop music's most "toxic" diva's gum at a 2004 auction. Money well spent. If you're into that sort of thing.
 

Editor's Note: Trident was not necessarily present on all of these historic occasions -- who even knows what brand Finnish people were chewing 5000 years ago! Get six super-useful gum life hacks and our chewing-friendly New Rules of Gum Etiquette, right here!