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Public Collections of Gum

Updated on February 22, 2013
kerbev profile image

I love everything weird and colorful in this world and I try to live a life that will make the world a little better once I'm gone.

Yeah, I know it's weird

I have always admired gum collections.  Not a person's gum collection (that's creepy), but rather a community's gum collection.  Colleges, camps, parks, city walls, a local mall.  They often have one place where, for whatever reason, a community has an unwritten agreement that at this one spot it is okay to stick your gum.  It may not be okay to put your gum anywhere else but a garbage can, not even 3 feet from that location.  But this spot, this colorful, textured, interesting spot...anything goes.  It may be a wall, a tree, a post, or a rock.  It may be a railing, a pillar, or a bathroom door.  And the smell, oh the smell!

As people walk by, they deposit their gum on this modern day secular shrine to pop culture.  They may spit it there, press it in, or stretch it, but it will get stuck there.  These collections can grow to extraordinary size.  It is a bizarre cultural phenomenon that may have started with one rude person, and spiral into hundreds of followers creating a sort of communal art piece.

I can understand why some may think that these collections are gross, unsanitary, un-sightly, ... but I love them.  It unites people together, even if to just for a moment.  And, with just a piece of gum and a little spit, you too can join that group.

(Photo by John Walker used under CC 2.0)

Wall of Gum - Seattle, WA

Post Alley Wall of Gum outside Pike's Place Market

Gum Wall, also known as the Wall of Gum, originated in the early 1990s when theater patrons began placing their gum on the wall while waiting for tickets or admittance. The Wall of Gum is located near Pike's Place Market which is know for throwing fish (much like Lew Zealand)

Be Prepared

Don't show up without gum. Bring it with you. You may become inspired while you are there. wouldn't hurt you to share with someone who may have just stumbled upon the site.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Bubble Gum Alley

Bubble Gum Alley, in San Luis Obispo, California is a tourist landmark comprised of a 15 foot high and 70 foot long alley covered nearly entirely with bubble gum left by passers-by. The gum survived two full cleanings in the seventies, and nearly had to survive another in 1996 (but the cleaning was voted down). A poet referred to as "M", from Arroyo Grande, wrote in Don Pieper's article "An Ode to Gum Alley":

"We write our epitaphs on walls with gum,

And though it may be meaning less to some,

We have a symbol of our gummy youth,

Whose walls may not tell some glorious truth,

But eloquently speak of better times,

Of cruising, shopping sprees, and nursery rhymes.

If gum is all you see upon our wall,

Your mind is closed, your spirit shrunk and small,

Though memories of youth may never last,

Gum Alley is our present to our past."


Public gum art techniques vary from person to person. Some popular options are:

  1. The Moon Effect - easiest, quickest, and probably most popular. This method of putting gum on the wall simply calls for pressing the gum using a thumb or forefinger essentially smushing the gum in place, leaving a crater-like effect in the middle.
  2. The Art Effect - a variation of the moon effect, this method utilizes an some object to press the gum into place, and said object is left with the gum. Common choices: cigarette butt, coin, fortune (from fortune cookie), gum wrapper, or condom wrapper. Unfortunately, coins do not last long. I can only surmise that the gum eats away at the metal, because I cannot imagine anyone would steal a penny from a wadded up piece of used gum. I could be wrong.
  3. The Written Word - This method takes longer and requires multiple pieces of gum, each piece chewed to a gooey state and then spread out to make letters or numbers. It is best to use the same color for the whole word (or make it large enough to be seen if different colors). Names (Joey), words (PEACE), and tokens of love (AJ + DB) are most common.
  4. The Sculpture - Often requiring multiple pieces of gum, and a bit of creativity, the sculpture is the forming of a preferably recognizable object onto the wall. Faces, animals, and flowers, and symbols (peace signs, crosses, ...) are common choices.
  5. The Stretch - Requiring a good elastic piece of gum, the stretch requires you to pull the gum into a long piece (as if you were pulling taffy - wait, who pulls taffy anyway). The elongated gum is attached on each end and then pressed in at a few center points to keep its hold. Bends in the stretch can make for even more interest.

More Gum Stuck on Stuff

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way.. things I had no words for.

-Georgia O'Keeffe

curated content from Flickr

Gum Trees

Chewing Gum Stick to the Old Gum Tree

There is a great tree in Washington DC along the Tidal Basin. You can see the Jefferson Memorial in the background. There are other gum trees including the tree in front of the Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was shot, and a gum tree on South Street in Philadelphia.

Mitch Hedberg Quote:

“I had a stick of CareFree gum, but it didn't work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality.”

San Luis Obispo

Some visitors at this marvel have recorded some highly informative and socially relevant footage of this modern stonehenge-like masterpiece.

"I had a stick of CareFree gum, but it didn't work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality." - Mitch Hedberg

Got To Go? - What to do when nature calls

Krystal Urinal Screen, Bubble Gum Fragrance, Blue, Dozen (1002)
Krystal Urinal Screen, Bubble Gum Fragrance, Blue, Dozen (1002)
If there is something about the smell of bubble gum that simply makes you have to go? Please, I beg you, don't pee in Bubble Gum Alley, or next to Bubble Gum Wall, or on a Bubble Gum Tree. Why not try tossing one of these into a urinal to solve your problem? BOTTOM LINE: DON'T PEE IN BUBBLE GUM ALLEY!

Bubble Gum Chewing: America's Favorite Pastime

Regardless of age, race, gender, or location, people love bubble gum!

I can make a ball of gum hover above my lips with some pinpoint blowing.

-Jason Bateman

I pop gum. My parents get so annoyed with me. I know my dad wishes he never taught me how to do that.

-Hilary Duff

It's just a show. It's not the end of Western Civilization. It's chewing gum.

-Jerry Springer

Well, normally, I'm a gum chewer. But when I heard about these ticket things of Wonka's, I laid off the gum and switched to candy bars, instead. Now, of course, I'm right back on gum. I chew it all day, except at mealtimes when I stick it behind my ear.

-Violet Beauregarde

Bubble Gum Books for Kids

Deposit you digital gum here:


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