If you're a gum lover, especially one who lives in the concrete jungle of any major city, chew on this: Every time you spit a piece of the gooey stuff onto the ground, you end up paying for it in the form of higher taxes. That's right, scraping discarded gum from sidewalks and streets requires chemicals, steam cleaners, power washers and operators to do the dirty work. In Charleston, S.C., the city spends $200 a month just to keep three utility poles in its City Market district free of wayward wads. And in Ocean City, Md., two city employees spend three weeks every fall cleaning the sidewalks in a 14-block area near the boardwalk [source: Bryant]. It's not a new problem, either. In 1939, as part of Mayor La Guardia's campaign against gum, more than 20,000 wads of sticky stuff were removed from one spot in Times Square [source: Stead].
One U.K.-based polymer company -- Revolymer -- is working to make this particular problem a thing of the past. Its scientists have created a revolutionary gum, Rev7, that can be easily removed from a range of surfaces, including paved sidewalks, carpets, textiles and clothing. To give Rev7 its nonstick properties, the company adds a chemical to the gum base that is both hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating or oil-loving). The polymer's affinity for oil makes the gum soft and pliable, but its attraction to water means the gum always has a film of water around it, even when it's not in someone's mouth. It's this film of water that allows someone to peel Rev7 away from any surface.
Not that this gives you an excuse to spit out your gum wherever and whenever you wish. Miss Manners suggests that all gum, even the frictionless type, should be disposed of properly.