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HOW CHEWING GUM IS PRODUCED
THE CHEWING GUM PRODUCTION PROCESS
The production process of chewing gum is a blend of tradition and state-of-the-art technology and, like the finished product, it has undergone constant development.
. Making the mix
In the first stage raw materials are introduced into a heated mixer that may contain between 50 and 400 kg of product.The first ingredient is "gum base" that provides the chewy part of the finished product. Other ingredients are then added in a precise sequence:
In order to obtain the desired shape of chewing gum, the mixed mass passes through extruders to obtain a series of regular sheets that are suitably cut and wrapped. From a first extruder, the mix emerges in the shape of a continuous strip or in loaves that are placed on belts and left to be cooled.
In the case of bubble gums, a second extruder delivers the gum in strings. Strings are then cut into portions and wrapped as a finished product. With regard to strips or pellets, a sheet of chewing gum is produced by the second extruder which is gradually thinned out by rollers arranged in sequence.
The product is then cut into long thin strips to make traditional gum strips or cut into small centres for pellets.
Finally, extruded chewing gum is moved to a temperature controlled room to cool and ensure that it reaches the proper consistency. After the required time, strips are then processed by "cut and wrap" machines that deliver the final pack. The gum centres undergo another process: coating.
> For sugar-based chewing gum: glucose syrup, sugar, glycerin and flavourings.
> For sugar-free chewing gum: maltitol syrup, sweeteners that replace sugar (e.g., sorbitol, mannitol), intensive sweeteners (e.g.: aspartame), glycerin, flavourings.
Functional ingredients, such as baking soda, fluorine, calcium salts, etc, slowly released by chewing, are added afterwards.
Raw materials are weighed and dosed at preset times by computer-controlled systems, thus ensuring absolute repeatability of the composition.
In this stage, gum centres are coated to form a crunchy shell around the soft gum centres and flavoured so that they can deliver an immediate explosion of taste and freshness when chewing starts. The product is fed into large coating pans that can hold between 400 and 1500 kg of centres. Syrup, sweeteners and colourings are sprayed onto the gum.
The process of tumbling and spraying occurs under controlled air temperature and humidity in order to ensure proper drying.
. Wrapping and Packaging
This is a crucial stage because the external wrap represents the image of the product and, at the same time, an indication of its freshness. Currently, the most widely used pack for pellets are flip-top boxes with plastic film over-wrapping.
Blister packaging and ten-piece sticks are still widely available.
Bubble gums are traditionally wrapped in sticks or single pieces. Strips, on the other hand, are wrapped in an initial sheet of aluminium which protects them individually and then they are grouped together in sticks.