Gum Splotch Capital of the World

“Those are gum?” says Jason Kwan, 24, a fashion stylist from Singapore. He winces in disgust at the spots plaguing 86th street, “There goes my qualm against Singapore’s chewing gum ban.”

Financial analyst Robert Wells, 32, has accepted gum spots as a fact of life in the city. “As long as it doesn’t stick to my hair or my shoes or my clothes, it’s all good.”

Amara Menna, 45, a homemaker, thinks gum spewing should be outlawed. “They’re ugly, like pimples. No one likes pimples.”

"The Gum Constellation" by Zimri Smith

Gum spots are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Photo by Zimri Smith, used with permission.

Gummed Up
Congested streets and subway stations are significantly more prone to severe gum acne, but even Manhattan’s manicured areas are struggling to keep spots at bay.

Quoted in a New York Times article by Deborah Stead, president of the Grand Central Partnership Andrew C. Cerullo III says their sanitation crew works at cleaning the eastern Midtown area “every day, seven days a week. It’s an ongoing battle.”

The article also goes back in history to trace New York City’s degradation into “the gum splotch capital of the world.”

Chew, Don’t Spew
Fortunately, possible solutions to the problem are almost as numerous as the blobs. Singapore has stuck to banning the import and sale of chewing gums, while Mexico City advocates swallowing.

There are also gum busters like John Toussaint, who stopped allowing his children to chew gum. However, an anonymous Gum Buster executive apparently encourages people to spit out gum so he stays in business. If this sounds like a viable business opportunity to you, starting your own gum removal business is as easy as five steps.

Across the Atlantic, British company Revolymer has released a non-stick gum that can be easily removed from pavements, shoes and clothes. It is expected to reach U.S. shelves by 2011.

But until then, what do you think are the best solutions to this sticky problem?

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