Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Is that really true?

82 Comments

“The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

When I was a kid, I loved bubble gum, the bigger the wad, the bigger the bubbles. One day, while outside playing Red Light Green Light with the neighborhood kids, I swallowed my wad of bubble gum. Once the panic that I wasn’t choking subsided and I was breathing normally, we were ready to resume the game. That’s when a boy from the other neighborhood announced, “Jill just swallowed her gum, it’s going to wrap around her heart and kill her.”

I looked around and everyone was watching me. Then an older boy chimed in, “That’s not true, but it does take 7 years to digest.” Since that sounded better than the gum wrapping around my heart, I accepted the fact that this wad of gum would be with me until I entered high school.

A few years later, I learned that gum doesn’t take 7 years to digest when swallowed and as far as it wrapping around your heart, also not true. These were simply an urban myth, a story told as fact when there is little or no actual evidence to support it.

In reality, the makeup of gum makes it indigestible. It is about 30% gum base, which is a lot like rubber. However, it was a relief to learn it is expelled through natural processes within about 24 hours of consuming it.

When you were young, what urban myths did you believe to be true?

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, will release in March, 2017. It's now able for pre-order on Amazon. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

82 thoughts on “Is that really true?

  1. Ha! I remember this one. And I’m sure I believed a lot of urban myths since I was pretty gullible back then (probably still am), but none are coming to mind right now. Happy Friday!

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  2. I grew up thinking that gum couldn’t be digested and if I continued to swallow gum, it would just get bigger and bigger in my belly until it burst. Even now as an adult, that thought goes through my mind when I chew gum. I also remember being told that if I swallowed watermelon seeds, a watermelon would grow inside me. Since we’re on the topic of food (?), I remember as a little girl, I hated mashed potatoes. The only way I could get myself to eat them was to believe that I had a woman living inside me who needed the mashed potatoes for her … get this … knitting. Yup, and I wasn’t even knitting yet. But I have a vivid memory of sitting at the dining room table, (slowly) putting a forkful of potatoes in my mouth with a little voice telling me, “I need more” and an image in my mind of a woman sitting and knitting in my stomach. I liked the knitter, but I still don’t like mashed potatoes.

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  3. Sure glad to hear that about the bubble gum. Must have swallowed a ton when I was a kid. 😉 I can’t think of any urban myths I actually believed. I did have a friend once who firmly believed that if you swallowed a watermelon seed, you’d grow a watermelon in your tummy. LOL. I might have believed that one if my mom hadn’t told me it wasn’t true.

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    • I was a big bubble gum chewer as a kid and did my fair share of swallowing it, so I was happy to learn it was a myth. I remember the watermelon myth, I think I sister convinced me that was true. Have a great weekend, Elizabeth!

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  4. I also heard that about bubble gum! (And I used to love to play Red Light Green Light!)
    I used to believe all kinds of urban myths like the one about crossing your eyes. (If you cross your eyes, they will stay that way.) Also, the one about a guy hiding under cars to slash ankles with a razor blade. Or the guy with a hook for a hand. I’ve also heard the watermelon seed one. My mother also set me straight.

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    • First, thank you so much for the lovely package I received today, Linda! That was so thoughtful and the flowers are beautiful!
      I always loved playing Red Light Green Light…maybe because it didn’t require a lot of coordination. 🙂 Oh, I remember the one about crossing your eyes, but the version I heard was someone had to hit you on the back while they were crossed and that would make them stay that way. It’s a good thing I never heard about the guy hiding under cars, I would have never left my house.
      Have a great weekend and thank you again!

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  5. I went to Catholic school. The nuns convinced us that French kissing caused pregnancies. In a way, they are right.

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  6. I thought gum stayed in us forever and could eventually glob together and cause some unknown problem. Also knew (and spread!) the one with guy who had hook for hand; I think that one was intended to creep out kids from going parking in remote areas…And I believed the crossing your eyes myth. I probably believed everything. 😀 Another I believed was if you crack your knuckles, they would get huge.

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    • I don’t remember the guy with a hook for a hand. I guess the myths varied according to where you lived. I do remember the knuckle cracking myth…actually, I didn’t realize that was a myth. 🙂 Have a great weekend Natine!

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  7. Probably the most common myth while we were young, that all parents seemed to religiously buy into, was that one should wait an hour after eating before swimming. And although there’s probably some merit to resting after eating before exercise and swimming, I don’t think it’s ever been proven that failing to wait an hour causes drowning. Of course, this was also a time when there was the polio scare and we had to rest in the afternoon to help ward off the evils of the dreaded disease. 🙂

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  8. Oh Jill, this really brought back some memories, I was told almost the same thing when I swallowed some chewing gum! I loved the quote at the top too!
    Hope you and Derek from Devon have a super weekend 🙂 xo

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    • It is a good quote, unfortunately these days it seems to be true. Reading the comments is bringing back memories of other myths I heard as a child…it’s great.
      Derek from Devon says hello and we both hope you have a great weekend! I so enjoyed meeting your daughter today. I hope she returns for another visit. xo

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  9. Ha,ha! Glad to hear your wad of gum passed safely. When we were little my great grandmother lived with us for several years. She scared us by telling us that thunder meant God was angry with us because we had misbehaved. Every time there was a storm (and there were many in Puerto Rico) my sister and I hid under our beds and apologized to God. In fact, He still punishes me from time to time.

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    • Yes, the wads passed safely, there were many. 🙂 That’s a great story, Maria. I remember hearing that thunder meant God was angry, but no one ever told me he was angry at me. Go grandma! Living in Puerto Rico, I’m sure you spent a lot of time under your bed. Personally, I can’t imagine you ever doing anything wrong. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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  10. That’s funny because I totally believed the 7 years to digest myth when I was little, too. 🙂

    But I did love my bubble gum. Particularly the bazooka ones with the little comics I never understood. I also liked the cigarette shaped ones, too, as horrible as it sounds. Crazy to think that people really believed inhaling smoke wouldn’t cause any serious damage. Crazy, and sad… 😦

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    • I believed it too, but that didn’t stop me from chewing every brand of bubble gum available. You might be too young to remember Gold Rush, but it was little nuggets of bubble gum that was sold in pouches. I used to chew the entire pouch at once. I had a thing for blowing big bubbles. 🙂 Yes, I remember the cigarette shaped gum. I bet they don’t sell those anymore. Enjoy your weekend!

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  11. Haha, aren’t we gullible when young? I remember being told by a friend of my Dad’s that he could see my invisible bushy tail. As a child, I was always climbing trees and he would tease me about this because he said I was like a squirrel. I can remember getting quite upset about it.

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    • Speaking for myself, I was very gullible, Jenny. I can see why being compared to a squirrel would make you upset. I suppose your Dad’s friend thought he was being funny. I love that you climbed trees as a child. I was so afraid of heights, I never did much tree climbing. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  12. Ha! I remember the one about sinking to the bottom of the pool if you went swimming after eating! I still have a ‘thing’ about that one. Just like I still believe I can catch a cold from standing out in the cold. My gran who was a very superstitious lady managed to convince me not to catch frogs and toads because if you touch them you’ll get warts! 😉 Also my friends – yes, most of them were boys – and I were fascinated with all the ‘cokelore’ y’know dissolving teeth in Coca Cola etc (back when we still had milk teeth to spare) 😉

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    • My mother was convinced we would sink to the bottom of our pool if we didn’t wait at least a half an hour. I also remember being told I’d catch a cold if I was exposed to the cold or if my hair was wet.
      Lol…I remember the myth about frogs and toads causing warts. I loved catching frogs and as a child, I had a wart or two…I never knew the real story. 🙂
      Have a great weekend, Yolanda!

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  13. What a fun post Jill. I was told if I made mean faces my face would stay that way. I also believed that menthol cigarettes were good for your breathing. 🙂

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  14. I think I was a skeptical child, because I don’t remember believing any of those urban myths. I read a lot of science books when I was a wee lad, though. I always felt (and still do) that every mystery and myth can be explained with methodical observation, testing, and analysis.

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  15. Immediately I remembered our neighbor warning her daughter, my friend, “The next time you cross your eyes, I’m going to smack your head and your eyes will freeze that way.” If that could really happen, I couldn’t believe she’d smack her head and make it happen!
    Then another mother, when her son had an emergency appendectomy, told us it was because he bit his fingernails and swallowed.
    I’m surprised any kids in our neighborhood lived to grow up!

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    • Lol! That’s one myth I’ve never heard, Marylin…biting your fingernails and swallowing causing an appendicitis. Well, I’ve never bitten my nails and I still have my appendix…hum. Enjoy your weekend!

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  16. I remember hearing that “7 years” myth too when I was young. And it still exists today. I’m around kids during most of my waking hours, so I’ve heard it plenty. When we studied the digestive system in 5th grade health, I always introduced the stomach lesson with this urban legend — “How many of you have heard it takes 7 years to digest a wad of gum?” Year after year, almost every hand shot up. Then we’d talk about the stomach’s role in digestion. One year I had a classroom parent, who was a scientist, come in and demonstrate hydrochloric acid – I had a captive audience that day! Once they realized how strong it was, it helped put the 7-year legend to rest.

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    • I guess the myth was put to rest for that class. I’m surprised to hear that even today, the 7 year rule is still around. I thought the internet would have buried many of these legends. In a way, I’m happy they’re still around…unlike the typewriter, which is what I learned to type on many decades ago. 🙂 Have a great weekend, Gwen!

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  17. I’d never heard the “7 years to digest” legend. But I have heard it takes gum forever to be absorbed in the wild. Which is why you can’t spit it out around squirrels and birds.

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  18. A teacher once had us bring in our baby teeth to put in glasses of Coke-a-Cola – we watched in fascination as the teeth were gradually eaten away and eventually disappeared entirely. The morale of the story, we were told, in a teacher voice laden in doom – you will lose your teeth if you drink pop. Well – I’ve had more than a few soft drinks over the years and am still chomping away.

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    • Didn’t you leave your teeth for the tooth fairy, Francis? I wonder if the teacher had something else in that glass… I drank a lot of diet coke during my college years and like you, I still have my choppers. Happy Sunday!

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  19. Seems like we all heard a lot of the same ones. Knuckle cracking will give you arthritis… Crossing the eyes will be permanent… Gum seven years to digest… There must be a dozen more, but I can’t seem to remember them now.

    Have a great weekend Jill! 😀

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  20. I’m so pleased the gum didn’t wrap around your heart Jill! When I was very young I thought you could sit on clouds. I remember the disappointment I felt when I discovered it wasn’t true!

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  21. I remember that one too. Oh the Pop Rocks and Soda blowing up your stomach was a freaky one too. 🙂

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  22. Still chew my bubble gum and blow my balloon bubbles! xo

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  23. I heard the bubble gum one as well, Jill (and the crossing eyes, swimming, knuckle cracking and appendicitis ) and am so glad you survived the ‘bubble gum incident’ 😀

    My older cousin who was a hairdresser told me if I brushed my hair from my forehead back I would eventually go bald and she made me put my head down and brush from back to front. I believed her for about five minutes until I got dizzy 😀

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    • That’s funny, Dianne. I don’t remember hearing that, but I do remember hearing if you didn’t brush your hair at least 100 times a day, it would fall out. I also heard eating a tablespoon of mayonnaise would make your hair shiny…I never gave that one a try. 🙂 Have a great week!

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  24. Nice post, Jill. It makes me smile thinking of all those beautiful childhood memories. I was told that if you swallow seeds, the plant/tree will grow inside of you.

    I never heard of gum wrapping around your heart or taking seven years to digest:)

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  25. I’m glad to hear that you made a full recovery and were officially declared gum-free, and you don’t even need ongoing medical monitoring. But seriously, I did hear about gum remaining in the digestive tract for a long period of time after being swallowed, but as you say, the body has its own miraculous ways of getting rid of things that aren’t digestible.

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  26. Pingback: The Knitter and Mashed Potatoes | 1WriteWay

  27. I can remember worrying that if I swallowed pips the fruit tree would grow in my stomache. Seems a little silly now, but the world was a much simpler place 🙂 Glad you lived to tell the tale, Jill.

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  28. I hope you didn’t believe that all these years! Urban myth? Or maybe just a lie a kid told me? I’ll have to think about it. Maybe that means that I am a suspicious person.

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  29. I’m kind of suspicious myself, Luanne…another thing we have in common. 🙂 The gum around the heart, I questioned, but then I came to the conclusion he was just a mean boy. Have a great week!

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  30. What a fun post Jill. As a child I was very gullible and my brother took maximum advantage of it. He made me believe that if I told a lie my tongue would turn blue. I was a truthful child but that made me very conscious. He would check my tongue many times a day. Thank God my mother told me there was no such thing. I also believed that gum would stick in my stomach and I would die every time I swallowed gum which happened millions of times. A water melon seed would grow into a tree in my stomach was something I believed for quite some time. I also believed that God was angry in the heavens whenever there was lightening or a thunderstorm. I would hide anywhere since I was so scared of God’s anger. WOW! we believed in so many myths and now when I think about it I think it was part of an innocent childhood. Things were simpler and much nicer and we as children believed in fairytales and ghost stories. I look back and fondly remember those times. See your lovely post has again taken me into the beautiful time of my life. Thanks for this Jill. I love your posts. Take care and God bless my friend.

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    • Thank you for your sweet comment, Samina! You’ve made my week. 🙂 I remember you talking about your brother’s antics. I kind of like the tongue turning blue if you told a lie. I also thought thunder and lightening meant God was angry. I remember too believing thunder was the angels bowling. You’re right, all the things we believed as children was part of our innocence, it’s too bad that innocence is lost when we become adults. Thank you for being a bright light in my life, Samina. xo

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  31. I remember believing the gum myth too. My dad also told me once when I asked how the clouds moved, that it was the car that made them move. I believed that for quite a while until I realized he gave me an annoyed answer when I didn’t stop talking as a young child on a trip.

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  32. Pingback: Group Therapy: January « HACKER. NINJA. HOOKER. SPY.

  33. I totally believed the gum thing was true. In fact, there was a time when I figured I was about 27% gum due to the length in digestion time. I swallowed gum a lot. I somehow thought it was rude to throw it anywhere but the trash or my stomach.

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  34. I remember this particularly tough kid telling me, on the last day of grade two that grade three was really hard and I would probably cry every day……… worried about it all through the holidays…………… I guess it was for him but it turned into my best school year ever.
    Never listen to big kids!
    Terry

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