New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gummed Up

I'm embarrassed to admit that I had lived in the city for many years before realizing what all those black splotches on the sidewalks and subway platforms were. I'm feeling a little better learning that this is the case with other New Yorkers I have spoken to; in fact many I questioned were still not aware, thinking the splotches may be part of the concrete, asphalt etc. Gum on the streets is not a new problem - Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia ran an anti-gum littering campaign in 1939 with the slogan "Don't Gum Up the Works," and pressured gum manufacturers to print requests on the wrappers that they be used for proper disposal of the gum. The NYC problem is particularly interesting in that New York is home to invention of the chicle base chewing gum by Thomas Adams and the world's first chewing gum factory, circa 1876, on Vesey Street - Adams Sons & Company. In spite of the fact that throwing out chewing gum on the ground is a violation of the littering law and costly to remove, I think the problem is one of those quality of life issues very low on the priorities scale. Many do not notice or find it a problem and the rest of us become inured. On an encouraging note, GumBusters International B.V., a Netherlands base company, has developed technology - steam equipment and a benign solvent - that easily removes the gum in seconds. They have divisions and franchises worldwide. The franchisee in New York, Gumbusters of NY, has been busy cleaning the streets for a myriad of businesses and was featured on the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs. Perhaps we should adopt the thinking of Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, where chewing gum is banned (precipitated by gum vandalism) who remarked: "If you can't think because you can't chew, try a banana." :)

9 comments:

Heidi said...

It is AMAZING to think that a whole business has sprouted up to solve a problem such as this, no?!?! Very interesting post.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a dalmatian's fur.

Mayotic said...

This is another one of those pointless, useless habits that people have. It's absolutely disgusting that people just throw their used cud on the ground so that others can step in it. Yes, when it's fresh it's delightful to step right into it!! And while I'm ranting people who loudly pop their gum while chewing should be issued a summons to do community service and help with the clean up. You really hit a nerve with this one. Low on the quality of life piorities issue but come on people think before you toss.

Susan said...

I wonder what is inside gum that it can leave a mark like this for years to come? It must be pretty potent if years of rain won't take away the stain!

Personally, I cannot (won't allow myself) to chew gum. Ever since I was a small child and heard my grandmother popping her gum, I cannot resit popping as well! It is uncontrollable! So, I don't do it. But I used to LOVE chicklets (sp)! Is that the gum you were referring to? The little squares...so yummy. I wonder if they still make it? I don't see it around much anymore.

twilite said...

Hi! Good post and great comments so far. I stand by the quotes! Thanks.

Brian said...

Susan - these aren't actually stains. It's gum residue which has attracted dirt and has blackened.
Chiclets is a brand of gum named after chicle (ingredient originally in chewing gum).

Twilite - thanks.

slinger said...

Those spots are gum. You've got to be kidding me that this a problem in New York. That's baffling to me.

Thanks for the interesting read.

Fredrik Ekblad said...

I just have to see this city. And not because of the gum spots! All the busy streets, the gigantic skyscrapers, the calm, green lung of Central Park.
You can't imagine how much New York has been exposed to us. In movies, televison series and so on. It's like I know every part of the town, already.
One day...

Sally said...

LOL! it was the same here....I never realised til one nght, just before the Olympic games in Sydney, they pressure cleaned all the footpaths in central Sydney, and suddenly all the splodges were gone, and we heard it was mostly gum! Sadly, it didn't take too long for it all to reappear. . .