Sean Spicer really has a thing for gum.
The new White House press secretary has been chewed out this week for his excessive habit, as detailed in a resurfaced August profile by The Washington Post. In the profile, Spicer claims he chews and swallows two and a half packs of Orbit cinnamon gum before noon each day.
Spicer said he talked to his doctor about the habit, and “he said it’s fine.” But two and a half packs before lunch, really? We had our doubts. So we tried it.
7:17 a.m. I make an early-morning stop at a gas station for three packs of gum, Spicer-style. Cinnamon Orbit is nowhere in sight.
7:22 a.m. Another gas station, still no cinnamon. Why is cinnamon Orbit so hard to find?! Oh right: Spicer ate it all.
7:45 a.m. One last gas station. No cinnamon Orbit. I opt for strawberry and begin to chew. I’m not swallowing, because that’s scary.
10:50 a.m. I’ve made it through about three quarters of a pack. My jaw hurts. My tongue is raw with sticky-sweet abrasions. I can only imagine how much worse that would feel if this was cinnamon flavor.
11:14 a.m. I ask colleagues for help chewing all this gum. They respectfully decline.
11:56 a.m. The pack is complete, each finished wad spit dutifully into a Starbucks cup. This is ridiculous. I quit, with a pack and a half left to go.
I chewed less than half of Spicer’s daily gum diet, and I didn’t even swallow the pieces as he claims to do. But still, I noticed a few things: First, this habit is expensive. Three packs of gum cost over $5, which is more than a latte. Over the course of a year (and assuming Spicer doesn’t buy in bulk), it could mean some $740 in gum purchases. Secondly, I belched frequently over the course of the morning ― perhaps a symptom of increased air intake through my gaping mouth? Thirdly, I got really hungry from all that chewing and not eating. Maybe that’s why Spicer swallows.
Oh, and here’s 2.5 packs of unchewed gum, a visual reminder of what makes its way into Spicer’s stomach on a daily basis.
Silly experiments aside, there are medical concerns to gum intake. Overall, doctors say swallowing one piece won’t hurt you; it’s typically passed through the body without problem. But daily doses like Spicer’s can be problematic, according to Dr. J. Sumner Bell, an expert with the American Gastroenterological Association.
“If this were my patient, I would want to discuss his motivations and discourage this excessive gum intake,” Bell told The Huffington Post. “While one piece of gum now and then is no concern, problems have been described in patients who swallow large amounts.”
Swallowing entire packs of gum could create a bezoar, a solid indigestible mass in the stomach that may require medication to dissolve and pass. It could also cause intestinal blockage, Bell said.
“Should Sean Spicer or anyone else develop a full feeling, nausea, emesis, or severe constipation after habitually swallowing multiple pieces of gum, I’d suggest that they call their physician, or see the White House physician, in Sean’s case,” he said. “And let’s hope this isn’t sugar gum. In addition to the dental concerns, that’s a lot of extra calories.”