Is It Rude to Chew Gum?

Chewing gum in public is extremely bad manners. But are there times when it's OK to chew gum? Modern Manners Guy explores gum etiquette.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #287


Improper gum chewing etiquette has gone under the radar for too long.

That’s right, folks, it’s time we stop letting the sweet and/or refreshing scent of chewing gum cloud our judgment. 


From loud chewing like a cow, to popping bubbles endlessly, to forgetfully letting a small piece hang out of your mouth, gum chewing is rife with potential manners mistakes. The saying, “Can’t chew gum and walk at the same time” is only the start. It seems the moment we pop that decadent chewy square into their mouth, some of us enter a gum-induced trance and forget that there's a big world around us,

So before you unwrap that delicious treat and then go on to annoy everyone around you, check out my top 3 quick and dirty tips for proper gum chewing etiquette:

Tip #1: Chew With Your Mouth Closed! 

Let’s start off with what is hands down the worst of all gum chewing faux pas – chewing like a cow.

Ever seen a cow chew its cud? Disgusting. Cows, I love you, but your eating habits are well…like those of a farm animal. How do you live with yourselves?

OK, so we can't expect animals to have proper manners, but unless you're a current resident of Old MacDonald’s farm, you have no excuse. I have very little sympathy for people who claim they can’t control themselves and have to open their mouths wide when chewing.  Just recently one Modern Manners Facebook friend wrote to say that his allergies are so bad that it makes chewing gum with a closed mouth closed impossible. To that, I offer this totally radical solution…DON’T CHEW GUM THEN!

Loud chewing is distracting, gross, and makes you look sloppy, regardless of how nice the rest of you looks.

Loud chewing is distracting, gross, and makes you look sloppy, regardless of how nice the rest of you looks.

For those who still don’t quite believe me, here's the truth: When you chew with your mouth open, you look like a complete Neanderthal. Gum is a very tiny object. It’s the size of a dime, not a $5 Subway Footlong.  It does not require a large range of motion from your jaw. So if you are truly one of those people who just can’t keep your mouth closed while chewing gum, then at least refrain from chewing it around others. This, you can do, I promise. And when in public, stick to hard mints.

Tip #2: Don't Pop Your Gum (in Public)

The second biggest issue with gum chewing is the popping of gum. One area where the popping of gum is most prevalent (and most annoying) is in an office setting where employees are in cubicles or shared desk space.

Gum is very common in the workplace (I often use it after lunch). But it seems that the calming sensation of chewing gum involves tuning everyone else out so that some of us feel like we're on an island where loudly popping gum is NOT insanely rude.  

Before you say anything, let me assure you that popping your gum inside of your mouth doesn't muffle the sound. Yes, we can hear you. And trust me, we want to jump over the desk and strangle you.