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Is It Safe To Eat Bubble Gum From Old Packs Of Trading Cards?

bubble gum pieces
bubble gum pieces - Iurii Stepanov/Shutterstock

Many of us have warm, fuzzy memories of exiting a hobby store and busting open the pack of trading cards we just bought to get to that powdery, sweet bubble gum inside. The urge to reclaim the stuff we enjoyed as kids can be sometimes uncontrollable, so it's no surprise that a few of us out there have given into the temptation of eating that exact gum, only decades later! While it likely won't strike you down then and there, eating 30-year-old confections, regardless of whether they've been safely encased and preserved, is certainly questionable. But what are the risks involved?

The composition of, shall we say, "vintage" gum is a critical aspect to consider. Over the years, the ingredients in gum may change, leading to alterations in taste, texture, and, more importantly, safety. The aging process might cause sugar crystallization, altering the gum's texture and making it less palatable. Additionally, softeners and flavorings may degrade over time, impacting both the taste and safety of the gum. Storage conditions play a pivotal role in determining the safety of vintage gum. Exposure to fluctuating temperatures, humidity, or light can accelerate the degradation of gum ingredients. Ideally, all gum should be stored in a cool, dry place to maintain its quality. However, the potential conditions in which these trading card packs have been stored (attics, basements, or garages) may have varied. Unfavorable storage conditions increase the likelihood of the gum experiencing deterioration, potentially compromising its edibility.

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Time Is A Crucial Factor For Chewing Gum

Man chewing stick of gum
Man chewing stick of gum - Eva-katalin/Getty Images

Although it might not be nice for those approaching middle age to hear, the passage of time itself is a significant factor in assessing the safety of consuming aged gum. Bluntly put, 30 or more years is a long time. While gum is generally non-perishable, it does not mean it remains pristine indefinitely. Although there is no legal requirement for gum to have an expiration date, one can imagine that the more gum ages, the less pleasant it will be to chew. Aside from several other negative factors surrounding gum, its structural integrity may weaken over decades, posing a potential risk to those attempting to chew or consume it. Moreover, the likelihood of the gum harboring contaminants from its environment increases as time goes by, further raising concerns about its safety.

Whether it is safe to eat gum from a decades-old pack of trading cards involves a nuanced evaluation of factors such as the process of making bubble gum, storage conditions, and the effects of time. The edibility of gum from a vintage pack hinges on how well these components have withstood the test of time. While some collectors might view vintage gum consumption as an adventurous endeavor, it might be best to err on the side of nutritional safety. As a general rule, it is advisable to prioritize caution and appreciate these relics for their collectible value rather than as edible treats.

Read the original article on Mashed.