+ In the ingredients it lists "gum base", what is this made of?
Our gum base is a high quality European gum base that is made of a combination of natural and man-made food-grade polymers and waxes. A polymer is a string of molecules (monomers) that usually contain carbon and hydrogen. Polymers are found naturally in the human body, animals, plants, and minerals. In order to be food-grade, the gum base complies with strict international requirements. Gum base is a completely inert, insoluble, non-nutritive substance (if you swallowed it, it would not be metabolized, it would simply pass through the digestive tract of the body). All of the other ingredients that you do consume in our gum are naturally derived.
In an ideal world, we would use a natural rubber called chicle for our gum base. We love the idea of it and we know many of our customers would too. We've actually taken steps in R&D to try and use this gum base, but came up against a few road blocks. Firstly, cost. Our gum is sweetened with 100% xylitol. This ingredient is a lot more expensive than using regular sugar or artificial sweeteners (or a mix). So just by having a commitment to oral health with using xylitol, we set our product at a higher price point than other chewing gum products. Furthermore, we use a lot of this expensive ingredient. We decided to load each piece with as much xylitol as we could, because we know that every milligram makes a difference for oral health. Many of our competitors skimp on the total amount of xylitol per piece so they can have bigger profit margins. We do not. Natural chicle is about double the cost of a mixed rubber gum base. So on top of already using an expensive ingredient (xylitol), If we switched to a natural chicle, the price of our product would become a challenge to most, especially if they are using Zellie's to improve their oral health (which means at least 6 pieces a day). Secondly, texture and taste. Natural chicle does not hold flavor very well, it often sticks to teeth and dental work and after chewing it for a short time it becomes very hard. Additionally, every batch of natural chicle can be different, so having a reliable, uniform texture would not happen. We know a big part of chewing gum is the experience of it (which comes from the texture) and we know this would be severely compromised and less uniform if we used natural chicle.
With all of the above being said, we will continue to explore if there is a way to use a natural chicle gum base, perhaps in a different product line that would have a different price point. We would guess that for the customers that have decided this is important to them, they would be willing to pay more. Additionally as consumers are demanding more natural, organic products, we hope to see more innovations in the gum base field that we can then use in our products.