Any story of chewing gum that we carry out will begin and end in the south of Quintana Roo, where the tall chicozapote trees of the Mayan jungle of Gran Petén are concentrated, from which a resin is extracted that has managed to go around the world and that we return to it to try the first and only organic and biodegradable chewing gum, Chicza, marketed for years in Europe. Chicza is a different chewing gum, made from organic natural base gum along with wild and native fruits, herbs and spices. The procedure for the extraction of chewing gum is basically the same as that used by the ancient Mesoamericans. At the headquarters of Chicza, in Chetumal, I meet Manuel Aldrete Terrazas, executive director and connaisseur of the process: "The chiclero is the farmer who extracts the resin. He studies the tree, digs it down and climbs it with a machete. It makes zigzag cuts in the bark, like the fox, so that the sap flows. His ability is admirable." I ask about the chicleras communities, about their means of subsistence, and Manuel emphasizes that the Mexican jungle is collective. "Within the ejidos [communal lands] there are loggers, beekeepers and resin extractors. Chewing gum has a great synergy, there are carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin, sugars. Apart from being a natural product, this chewing gum never hardens. With heat and humidity you soften it, you do not tire the jaws, in plastic chewing gum you swallow solvents and alcohols. "
I try one with lime flavor. I perceive two things: one, I can not make balloons like those pink ladies of the movie Grease; and two, the taste of lime soon goes away. "There are no polymers here. With polymers you have chemicals that make the dough behave as you want. The balloon is made by solvents and industrial alcohols that allow it to inflate. That the taste goes fast? No, what goes fast are sugars and sweeteners. Plastic rubbers have 40% pure sugar, here only organic flavoring of vegetable extracts, give it, throw yourself another, this is good for tension ".
I think of that scene in Friends in which Chandler is locked in a cashier with a model who offers him a piece of gum that he ends up accepting and then, embarrassed by what he has just done, returns it to his mouth and pretends to drown to get his attention. I also remember Mr. Adams' chewing gum, which began to be marketed in the late nineteenth century and that anyone who has been a child in the eighties will remember for his brand: Chiclets. "Adams found the gum looking for tires for the wheels of the cars ... it was already a relic product that came from here. When Americans go to World War II, a 1944 decree reveals the consumption of natural chewing gum only for the troops. Now there is fentanyl or marijuana, but then, to combat stress, chewing gum was essential," says Aldrete Terrazas. I still see Cruyff on the sideline and the Chupilandia of Gloria Fuertes, where the stairs were made of sugar, "cake the balconies, the caramel floor and chewing gum the lounges".
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