It definitely does not take 7 years to digest gum. Some enterprising mother must have come up with that story to scare their children away from swallowing this sticky treat, or maybe, moms themselves cut their teeth on this myth as children. Gum, although classified as indigestible, will still pass through the digestive tract and out the other side, as everything that goes into your mouth must do; however, just because our body cannot obtain nutrients from gum, doesn’t mean that it can’t flow through all of our pipes in tact and come out the other side. If junior has swallowed a piece of gum, look for it (or don’t) in his or her feces looking very similar to its preswallowed state.
Gum’s origins lie with loggers who used to chew the resin from spruce trees; I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because they couldn’t get tobacco after being in the bush so long and had to do something with their mouths… John Curtis, in the 1800’s observed this habit, refined the resin and marketed it as the State of Maine Spruce Gum. He acheived moderate success until the supply of spruce trees in Maine dried up. It was later that a sample of resin from the Chicle tree was shown to an inventor in New York city named Thomas Adams as a subsitute for rubber. Adams, instead turned this resin into gum giving birth to Chicklets; a brand that still bears Adams’ name today.
Very few gum manufacturers use Chicle resin today, but rather create their own synthetic substitue internally. There are some common ingredients that are notorious players on the food scene; hydrogenated vegetable oil to whom we are already well acquainted, and BHT, a preservative that has been banned in several countries and is linked to some forms of cancer;and vinyl acetate, also linked to some forms of cancer. I haven’t even ranted about Aspartame!
In summary, swallowed gum won’t stay in your digestive tract forever, it will come out, similar to how it went in and takes about as long as any food ingredient to complete the process. So, unfortuneately, junior still has room for all those vegetables.