this thing's incredible

Here’s Why I Chomp (and Swallow) Desk Gum All Day

Photo: Zach Schiffman

Chewing gum in the modern world is profoundly inelegant. You chew it on the subway, spit it on the ground, get it stuck on someone else’s shoe, walk around with a tote bag full of wrappers that will stay there for three to six months. I also find it so silly that gum’s designated home is in a tote bag or a jacket pocket — not on my desk, where I chew gum the most. Because my truth is that I genuinely feel more productive while chewing gum. There’s something about the sensory distraction that allows me to focus on the pixels on my screen. (I also found a study from 2015 that says chewing gum was associated “with higher productivity and fewer cognitive problems,” so it’s not just me.)

My solution is Desk Gum. The innovation came to me when I decided to buy gum in bulk on Amazon, because chewing gum is a habit that gets expensive quickly. At a bodega, you can spend $4 on 16 teeny slices of Orbit that are too sweet but also somehow lose their flavor immediately. I wanted something that was minty but felt more like a sugar-free dental product than candy. I also wanted gum that was not individually wrapped, to prevent my office from being covered in paper wrappers as I chewed.

After sifting through 300-piece buckets of Dubble Bubble (I’m not above it) and 200-packs of individually wrapped Orbit, I came upon Xylichew. While it had fewer reviews than the more well-known retail brands, it met my qualifications, and reviewers seemed enthusiastic about the flavors (of which there are seven). I tried a 60-count of ice mint at first, way more than you’d get in a traditional pack anyway, and for $0.15 a chiclet, I was frugally chewing delightful sugar-free gum all day.

So far, I have found the long-lasting flavors to be less intense than traditional retail gum, while still keeping my breath fresh and jaw strong. A TikToker corroborated this dumb theory for me recently, calling gum an “alternative to guasha-ing,” and while I might not be going for the massive Johnny Bravo–jaw look these influencers desire, I might be able to skip that step from my nighttime routine for a bit.

Plus, this sugar-free gum is sweetened with birch xylitol, which the company says helps slow the rate of acid production in the mouth and prevent erosion of enamel. As someone who has trust issues with the dentist — because I once went to one of those millennial Instagram dentists that mischarged my insurance and still owes me $350 — I am willing to believe this.

Possibly the best side effect of Desk Gum is the lack of waste it creates. Buying chiclet gum in bulk without wrappers leaves my under-desk trash can free of unnecessary waste and — controversially — I swallow my gum, making it even more waste-free … sort of! To get away from my plastic-wasteful jar, I’ve since upped the ante and ordered a 500-count bag of Xylichew, which comes out to $0.10 per chiclet of gum. To further ritualize my practice of Desk Gum, I ordered a colorful glass container from Hay to store my gorgeous gum supply on my desk. I live in bliss, delicately removing my glass lid to place a perfect chiclet on my tongue while I make my little social posts for Curbed and Grub Street. Long live Desk Gum!

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Here’s Why I Chomp (and Swallow) Desk Gum All Day