Here’s a weird and trivial phenomenon to consider: gum disintegration syndrome.
I’m not much of a gum-chewer, and never have been…but I remember gum from when I was a kid, and you could chew and chew and maintain a flavorless wad for a long time. Recently, I thought I’d try gum as an appetite suppressant, and I got some of the sugarless stuff. To my surprise, I’d chew on it for a few minutes, and shortly I’d feel it losing its texture and getting runny, and then it would dissolve into small fragments that I’d just swallow. I thought it was those dang cheap confectionery companies, that the formulas for gum base had changed since I was a kid, or maybe it was the sugarless kind that was just different. I tried a couple of different brands—same result. I would have abandoned it there and chalked it up to yet another example of the evils of creeping capitalism and Things Were Better in the Good Old Days, but I mentioned it to my wife, who thought I was nuts. She’s been dipping into my gum, and noticed no difference—it lasts as long as she wants to chew it.
Weird. My wife sent me this Straight Dope article on it, but it’s not very helpful. There’s some speculation that it’s a result of secretions during arousal (unlikely in my case; I can be reading, or driving the car, and it happens…unless perhaps I have a remarkable libido) or temperature (I tried taking the gum out every once in a while to cool, but no difference, it still breaks down. Besides, my body temperature isn’t unusual enough that my doctor has noticed.) At this point it’s simply a mystery. Maybe I’ve acquired some novel new digestive enzymes, but I don’t think I’ve been in any teleporter accidents—if I graduate from dissolving Wrigley’s to novel ways of eating donuts, I’ll let you know.
I’m not concerned about it*—maybe it’s just as well this is a vice I won’t be pursuing—but now I’m curious. Anyone else have the power to reduce gum to soup? Does it only happen in moments of passion? Details!
*Although…if everyone gets a mutant superpower in their life, and mine is the ability to digest gum instead of acquiring laser eyeballs or telepathy or super-regeneration, I’m going to feel ripped off.