Monday, February 2, 2015

Lavender Chewing Gum for "Welcome to Night Vale"

          In episode 4 of Commonplace Books' engrossing "Welcome to Night Vale" podcast–a "Prairie Home Companion"-like show of a small, arcane town in the middle of an in-salient dessert–the dulcet tones of radio host Cecil Palmer report that a city counsel meeting was held to discuss the removal of an old, offensive door in a nearby canyon, marked "DANGER. PLUTONIUM. DO NOT OPEN DOOR. RISK OF DEATH." The townsfolk voted to remove the eyesore, but a visiting scientist-turned-town-celebrity who recently and tragically had his gorgeous hair cut by the now ignominious Telly the Barber, gave a hurried and opposing vote. Maybe. Possibly.

"Carlos, beautiful Carlos, tragically shorn of his locks, reportedly was the only dissenting voice—but it is not clear he actually opposed the measure, as the minutes only report him stating, 'There is no time. No more time,' into a black rectangle in his hand, and then running, winded, from the community hall. According to Old Woman Josie, he was still absolutely perfect, and smelled of lavender chewing gum."
–"Welcome to Night Vale" podcast, Ep. 4, "PTA Meeting"


          Studies have been done that link gum chewing to increased concentration and memory retrieval. Lavender (or lavandula), a blooming plant in the mint family, has for centuries been used to relieve anxiety, stimulate relaxation, and aide in sound sleep. Is Night Vale with its curious citizenship and violently unorthodox happenings part of an elaborate sleep experiment? Is the bizarre town an elaborate dream? Does this dream belong to Carlos and is he reclining, chewing gum in a world apart with unknown scientific instruments around him scratching records onto improbably long ribbons of paper while the heavy scent of lavender hangs in the air like a car under the magnet of a junk yard crane? It's highly probable, dear readers. Let's not do anything to wake him.

Note: For the recipe below I used a gum making kit from Glee Gum that uses chicle pellets created from the sapodilla trees in the rainforest. The company also has the chicle gum base pellets for sale independent of a kit.


Lovely Carlos' Lavender Chewing Gum

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. Chicle Pellets Gum Base
4 Tbsp. Light Corn Syrup
1/2 tsp. Clear Vanilla Extract
1-2 Drops Purple Food Color Gel (I used 1 drop)
2-3 Tbsp. Powdered Lavender Buds
(crumble dried dark purple lavender buds & stir/press them through a little fine mesh strainer)
2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

Important Items:
Waxed or Parchment Paper
Popsicle Stick
Ruler
Rolling Pin
Pizza Cutter
4"x4" Purple Foil Candy Wrapper Sheets (I bought mine on Amazon)
Night Vale Lavender Chewing Gum Labels (print & cut out)
Double-Sided Tape

Directions:
1. Lay a long sheet (about 2 ft) of waxed or parchment paper on a flat surface. Whisk the powdered lavender (you can start out with 2 tbsp. & add another tbsp. later if you want a more powerful scent) & powdered sugar together until evenly incorporated & pile it in the middle of the parchment paper, making a well in the center.
2. In a small pot pour about an inch of water & bring it to a low boil. Pour the chicle pellets into a small glass dish & place the dish in the pot of water. Cover with a lid & heat for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicle pellets are very soft & sticky when stirred with a popsicle stick. Remove the dish from the pot & pour the corn syrup, coloring, & vanilla into the chicle. Stir until well combined & smooth. If the mixture starts to solidify, zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
3. Pour/scrape the mixture into the well in the mound of lavender powdered sugar & push the sugar over it. Knead the powdered sugar into the gum mixture, repeatedly folding & pressing, being careful in the beginning because the mixture might be hot to the touch. When most of the powdered sugar is worked into the gum & before the gum solidifies, roll it into a long rectangle about 18" x 4" or 9"x8". Using a pizza cutter, slice the rectangle into 3/4" wide strips 4" tall; you should get between 20-22 pieces.
4. Wrap the pieces in the purple foil on the diagonal. Place the wrapped gum strips in stacks of 6. Print & cut out as many Night Vale lavender chewing gum labels as you need & wrap each stack of gum strips with a label, securing them underneath with a strip of double-sided tape. Gift to your favorite scientist & marvel at how perfect he is.


For more chewing gum from fiction, try Bryton Taylor's Willy Wonka 3-Course Dinner Gum! *

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