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Care*Free Gum

What is the big stigma with school and chewing gum? 

All through school we were never allowed to chew gum. Were the school officials afraid we were going to blow bubbles in class? My sister, Nancy, had a talent for being able to crack her gum when she chewed. 

Did they think gum would end up on the floor and someone step in it? Or maybe they were worried that the gum would find its way to the underside of school desks. 

 Whatever the issue, chewing gum in school was in the same category as smoking in the bathrooms. 

Punishment for violating this most sacred of laws tended to be rather creative. One teacher would have the offending student press the gum on the bridge of their nose and keep it there through the end of class. Another one that I heard about, but never actually saw, was where a teacher had a jar where he collected the wads of gum from students, and once collected, the violator would be forced to pick another wad out of the jar and chew it for the rest of the class period. And of course, these “in-class” measures were followed with and after school detention. 

Deterrents can be very effective sometimes. 

There used to be a product at one time, maybe still is, called AsperGum. AsperGum was a chiclet style piece of gum with aspirin powder inside. The idea was that as you chewed and swallowed, the aspirin would get applied directly to your throat and give you relief from soreness. It was also a good excuse to chew gum in school. Most teachers were gullible enough to let students continue to chew if it were AsperGum. I’m not really sure that everyone who claimed to using it actually were. I’m guessing once we found we could get away with it… well you know where that goes. 

The girls in my high school were very adept at turning chewing gum wrappers into bracelets, decorative belts, lanyards and other types of origami-style clothing accessories. 

Also, during my High School Years, there was a new chewing gum that hit the market, care*free gum. care*free gum had this great promotion. They offered high schools across the country a chance to host a concert by the Canadian rock band “The Guess Who”. They are not to be confused with the British SuperGroup “The Who”. 

The Guess Who had a modicum of success back in the early 70’s with hits like “These Eyes” and “American Woman”. 

The promotion went something like this: Schools would collect the individual sleeves from sticks of gum and submit them to the tabulating company. You could also submit slips of paper with the care*free name written on them, complete with the asterisk. Then the company would determine the highest ratio of care*free slips per student and win the concert.   

So for a month, we suspended our Euchre games in study halls and did nothing but write care*free on little slips of paper and turn them in at the end of the day. 

We didn’t win anything for all of our efforts (or wasted time, however you look at it), but in retrospect, I think it’s rather ironic that everyone in the school was involved in an activity which ran averse to everything the school stood for back in those days. After all, even during the campaign, we weren’t allowed to chew gum in school. 








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