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Wrigley’s Big Red Gum Ingredients Explained

Updated on January 2, 2011


Wrigley's Big Red is a cinnamon flavored chewing gum introduced in 1976. Available only in the United States, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. It was once available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia but was discontinued. It is a popular souvenir with British and Irish tourists visiting the United States.


In all food products, ingredients must be listed according to their relative weight. The listing of each ingredient is in a descending order of predominance.


Big Red ingredients: Sugar, gum base, corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors; less than 2% of: Glycerol, soy lecithin, aspartame-acesulfame, hydroxylated soy lecithin, color (red 40 lake, blue 1 lake), BHT (to maintain freshness). Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine.


1. Sugar: A sweetening additive. Made mainly from sugar cane and sugar beet.

Health effects: Safe if eaten in small amounts. Consumption of large amounts over time has been  linked to tooth decay, periodontal disease, obesity, hyperactivity, B vitamin deficiencies, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.


2. Gum base: A non-nutritive masticatory substance used as a support for the edible and soluble portion of chewing gum.

Gum Base is made from a mix of raw materials which are categorized in five classes:

- Elastomers: act as the key ingredient and provide elasticity and bounce. Can be made from natural latexes such as couma macrocarpa, loquat, tunu, jelutong, chicle, or synthetic rubbers such as butadiene rubber, butyl rubber, and polyisobutylene.
- Resins: Act as binders and softeners, providing a cohesive body or strength and usually made from glycerol esters of gum, terpene resins, and/or polyvinyl acetate.
- Waxes: Render the elastomer soft to ensure thorough blending of the gum base. Usually made from paraffin or microcrystalline wax.
- Fillers: contribute to the overall texture. Made from calcium carbonate (chalk) or talc.
- Antioxidants: prevent oxidation of the gum base and flavors and extend shelf life. BHT is most commonly used.

Health Effects: Unknown. Though caution is advised due to the use of synthetic ingredients. Synthetic ingredients tend to be carcinogens.


3. Corn syrup: A sweet syrup made by treating corn starch with acid enzymes. May be genetically modified.

Health effects: Considered safe if eaten in small amounts. May cause allergic reactions.


4. Natural flavors: Any flavor not chemically derived. Obtained by physical processes from plants or animals. Made to provide flavor to a food rather than nutritional value. May contain MSG.

Health effects: Unknown.Different foods use different natural flavors and processes. Naturally derived ingredients may be altered, rendered unsafe. It should be noted that the use of the word “natural flavors” is often used to mask the use of harmful, naturally derived flavors.


5. Artificial flavors: A synthetic mixture not found in nature, designed to mimic a natural flavor. May contain MSG. Over 1,700 artificial flavors are approved by the FDA.

Health effects: Unknown. Companies are not required to identify the various synthetic mixtures (1,700 to date) used in foods, requiring only that they be listed under the umbrella of the “artificial flavors” listing. Some individuals are sensitive to artificial flavors, experiencing headaches, nausea, and drowsiness, among other symptoms.

Artificial flavors sample list: benzyl isobutyrate, ethyl acetate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate (petroleum derivative), methyl benzoate (petroleum derivative), hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone. An artificial flavor may be made up of any number of synthetic chemicals.


6. Glycerol: (Glycerine) A natural or synthetic (petroleum) by-product of soap manufacturing. May be animal based. May be corn, peanut, or soy based. May be genetically modified. Used as a humectants (maintain moisture).

Health effects: Excess may cause headaches, nausea, elevated blood sugar,and may affect stomach and reproduction.


7. Soy lecithin: Made from soybean waste. Extracted with hexane, a gasoline by-product, through a “hexane bath”. May contain pesticide residues. May be genetically modified.

Health effects: The use of hexane in the making of soy lecithin raises issue since hexane is a neurotoxin.


8. Aspartame: Artificial sweetener. Made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

Health effects: Studies link it to cancer in rats. May cause neurological and behavioral issues. Reported symptoms include irritability, headaches, insomnia, hyperactivity, seizures, memory loss, migraines, depression, vision problems, memory loss. Should be avoided by those with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria.


9. Acesulfame: Artificial sweetener. Not digested by the body, eliminated through urine.

Health effects: In animal studies, cause lung tumors, breast tumors, respiratory disease, leukemia, and cancer. Emits toxic fumes when heated to decomposition.


10. Hydroxylated soy lecithin: An emulsifier made from soy lecithin, which is made with hexane.

Health effects: The use of hexane in the making of soy lecithin raises issue since hexane is a neurotoxin.


11. Red 40 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining red 40 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: A suspected carcinogen. Has been linked to hyperactivity, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and lower IQs in children. Some scientists question its safety since all tests were conducted by the manufacturer instead of the regulator, the FDA. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.


12. Blue 1 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining blue 1 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: Produces malignant tumors at the site of injection and by ingestion in rats. Possible effects include asthma, hives, hay fever, low blood pressure, allergic reactions. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.


13. BHT: (Butylated hydroxytoluene)Antioxidant made from petroleum. Banned in the United Kingdom.

Health effects: Possible carcinogen. May cause chronic hives, asthma, aggressive behavior, and may affect liver, kidney, stomach, and reproduction.

Pregnant mice fed BHT gave birth to offspring with abnormal behavioral patterns. Possible link to DNA damage in mouse gut. Toxic to aquatic organisms.

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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      This is the most information I have ever read about gum; interesting.

    • The Smiling Man profile image
      Author

      The Smiling Man 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks, I'm glad you find it interesting.

    • profile image

      guest 6 years ago

      How would I cite this?

    • The Smiling Man profile image
      Author

      The Smiling Man 6 years ago from USA

      What exactly would you like to cite? Let me know and I'll post the source.

    • profile image

      cool #1 6 years ago

      i like the gum because its Cinnamon

    • The Smiling Man profile image
      Author

      The Smiling Man 5 years ago from USA

      There are healthy alternatives that taste just as good. But they are more expensive.

    • profile image

      bob andrewson 5 years ago

      how much should i eat?

    • profile image

      Guest 5 years ago

      I'm looking for a heathy alternative. Suggestions?

    • The Smiling Man profile image
      Author

      The Smiling Man 4 years ago from USA

      I say don't eat any. Check out some of these more natural cinnamon gums.

      http://www.gleegum.com/cinnamon-gum-ingredients.ht...

      http://www.amazon.com/B-Fresh-Inc-Cinnamon-Gum-100...

    • profile image

      jjj 4 years ago

      is it vegetarian

      ?????????

    • The Smiling Man profile image
      Author

      The Smiling Man 4 years ago from USA

      Maybe, glycerol may be animal based

    • profile image

      Lara.T 4 years ago

      Don't eat it at all! This gum has been linked to severe allergic reactions including: swelling of the mouth, gums, tongue and throat if chewed. I have suffered several reactions to not only this gum, but several of this flavor in different brands. There is no warning on the label, although there were warnings on this site. It's been three days and I'm still not fully healed from the ulcers, blisters and swelling that came from chewing this gum. Stay away!

    • profile image

      jessi 3 years ago

      Every time I eat this gum my mouth swells up!!! Idk why this happens .? Help

    • The Smiling Man profile image
      Author

      The Smiling Man 3 years ago from USA

      Whoa, I don't know, but I'd stop eating it then.

    • profile image

      Nancy 2 months ago

      I love the HubPages site. If not anything else, it will certainly raise your curiosity level. They say you are what you eat. What ARE YOU EATING? ?

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