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Yes, Already Been Chewed gum picked off the ground, from under bleachers, and pulled from hot sidewalks.
Before you throw up in your mouth, does it help to know I was only four years old at the time?
It doesn’t help with my kids either. Every time I tell the story of my ABC gum days they roll on the ground shrieking with disgust, mortified their mother has such a sordid past, begging me to stop sharing the details.
But I share this shameful tale to help others. And to have fun torturing my kids with embarrassment.
It all began because my siblings and I weren’t allowed to have any sort of junk when were kids. No gum. No candy. No soda. No real chocolate. No exceptions. Not at Gramma’s. Not at friend’s houses. My Aunt Sandie, taking pity on us, would sneak us to McDonald’s then make us swear not to tell our dad.
That’s because my dad was a health food fanatic and nutrition nut to the extreme. Actually, exponentially. We did Whole Foods long before there was Whole Foods. We would drive 45 minutes to Santa Cruz to find health food stores where we bought peanut butter with the disgusting oil on top, wheat germ for dust pancakes, and 10,000 grain-bread that crumbled in your hands before it reached your mouth.
My cousin, Joe, who was allowed to drink so much Coke it flowed through his veins, once complained about having to drink Hansen’s cola when he came to our house, “Uncle Ron even has whole-wheat Coke!”
So there was no candy at Christmas. No candy hearts on Valentine’s Day. No tasty treats at Easter. Do you know how hard it is to watch your cousins gobble Peeps and chocolate eggs by the dozens while you were stuck with carob as a chocolate substitute and Tiger’s Milk Bars in your Easter basket?
It’s enough to drive a person crazy. Or to start eating ABC gum in a desperate attempt to get something you can’t have.
Pretty much cancelled out all the healthy nutrients force fed to me when I was sucking on germ laden, bacteria riddled foreign saliva, possible disease carrying discarded refuses of rubbery sugar.
Luckily, this disgusting habit was short lived when I moved on to stealing penny candy and got caught by my mom. After Mom confronted Dad he relaxed a bit on his strict rules of restriction when he realized it was creating a 4 year old thief with a garbage mouth.
After that we could have Halloween candy. But only for one night and then we had to throw it away. (Or so we thought until we found it stashed under Mom’s side of the bed.) And a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was instituted for Aunt Sandie’s.
Needless to say, I don’t believe in depriving kids of junk food. It only makes them want it more and creates binging junk food junkies. Like with most things in life, it’s fine in moderation.
If you come to my house now you will find a bubble gum machine, seasonal bowls of candy throughout, and an overflowing junk food drawer.
My kids rarely touch it because it’s never been out of their reach.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood kids do have a tendency to leave a little hopped up on sugar, weaving home on their bikes like they’ve just staggered out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.