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Meet the gum tasters, whose primary job is to ....... well, try different flavors of gum. While they do not need to go to a special school for this job, they do have to have palates (sense of taste) that can discriminate (tell apart) between the different tastes in a flavor. It appears only ten percent of all Americans could qualify for this sort of a job, which requires tasters to distinguish more than 70 ingredients and be able to objectively (without being influenced by anybody) comment on the flavor, texture and smell. Wrigley and Cadbury, the largest manufacturers of gum in the world, interview thousands of candidates before they find the right ones.
A typical workday goes something like this. The gum tasters are not allowed to eat or drink anything (except water), for at least an hour before they start tasting, to ensure they have a fresh palate. The first set of tasting is a liquid rinse to clean out the palate and get the olfactory (smell) and taste senses going.
They then begin tasting, starting with flavored liquids, and jotting down what the taste/smell reminds them of. In between tastings, they "clean" their palates repeatedly with crackers and water and even chocolate (this job just gets better). The highlight of the day always is, trying out a new gum flavor. The gum tasters perform various kinds of tests here. They chew a gum for five minutes and write their opinion on the initial burst of flavor. They may then try chewing it for half-an hour to see how long the taste lasts or what the texture (feel) of the gum is after this longer period of time. They then write their opinion on the taste of the gum, its smell, texture etc. All the gum tasters' opinions are collected and if most agree that they like the flavor, it may be approved for commercial use (for sale to me and you). After a "hard" days work the gum taster's head home and yes they do get paid to do this. So next time you are looking at career choices, (what to do when you grow up) keep this one in mind.
While today's chewing gum comes in all sorts of exotic flavors, it has very humble origins, dating back thousands of years when our ancestors chewed tree resin as mouth fresheners. The first commercial gum was made in the 1860's when an ingredient called "Chicle" was added to gums - then came the addition of sugar and "Chiclets"- the first commercial brand of gum was born. Different flavors came next and rest as they say is history. Today Chewing Gum is a $19 billion business.