Monday, May 10, 2010

Chew on this--Xylitol Gum

Xylitol gum is a swag option in the essay contest. Let me explain what it is and why it is so Finnish.

In Finland it is common to see a family get up to leave a restaurant while one parent passes everyone a package of gum. Everyone pops a piece of gum in their mouth and walks away. This is not an exercise in minty freshness or part of a bubble blowing culture. Instead, it is dental hygiene at its most portable.

Xylitol and its ability to prevent tooth decay was discovered and developed here in Turku at the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Turku. One of the developers, Kauko Mäkinen, was interviewed here in the Helsingin Sanomat. He is pictured above.

You have to love a researcher who helped develop a wildly successful product, but never invested in it.

”Neither have I ever bought any shares. I have always thought that it is safer to remain an independent academic researcher”, Mäkinen notes.

He also shares the insight that xylitol and ethanol should not be mixed!

”It was easy to recruit young dentistry students to participate in tests. They were promised a really good party after the testing period”, Mäkinen reports.
Mäkinen smiles to think of the punches served at the final party.
”One of the punch bowls had been sweetened with Xylitol, which gave the students a truly horrific hangover. Later on, I learnt that when consumed in large quantities, mixing Xylitol and ethanol is not a very smart way to go”, Mäkinen notes.

( The italicized quotes are from the Helsingin Sanomat.)

You cannot find gum with the same levels of xylitol in the United States. I would guess that price may be an issue. You cannot buy a package of gum for a quarter here. Xylitol gum is marketed in South Korea and this You Tube video is a must see. I love the Finnish leprechaun!

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