No One Wants Gum Anymore, Probably Because It's Gross

The popularity of chewing gum has plummeted in the last four years, with sales dropping 11 percent. Can there be any explanation other than the decades-long campaign by right-thinking moms, etiquette experts, theater attendants and sound-sensitives who just cannot deal with your smacking right now?

The news comes via the AP, which reports the gum racket just ain't what it used to be. Market researcher Euromonitor International predicts sales will drop another four percent in the next five years, and gum makers are scrambling for sales tactics that'll boost their bottom lines. No one's entirely sure what's driving the trend, but mints and fruit chews are infringing on gum's turf, taking up increasing space in the check-out aisle.

Theory: The proliferation of less-tacky alternatives is giving gum haters the edge they need to finally K.O. their nemesis. And they are rejoicing:

"You talk to someone and they're just chomping on gum," said Matt Smith, a 46-year-old who lives Albany, N.Y. and hates gum so much he refers to it only by its first letter. "If you substitute gum for any other food, like mashed potatoes, would you find that acceptable? It's disgusting.

Says reining etiquette empress Lizzie Post:

"My grandmother used to tell me, `You look like a cow chewing cud'," she said.

Perhaps most telling: Mars (America's largest gum producer) says the steepest declines have been among those 25 and under. Maybe now that they've got smartphones to irritate their parents and teachers, teens no longer need to sit at the back of the classroom and pop their stale gum.

They'll always have baseball players and Britney Spears, though.

Photo via Getty.