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175-pound chewed gumball earns man a place in Ripley’s lore

January 27, 2012 |  1:40 pm

A 50-year-old Palos Verdes Estates man has chewed his way into Ripley's Believe It or Not! for having the world's largest medicated gumball.

Since 2006, Barry Chappell has been collecting 95,200 chewed pieces of Nicorette gum, which he meticulously saved, then formed into a giant ball that weighs 174.6 pounds and measures 62 inches around.

A story about Chappell, who hosts "The Fine Art Showcase" cable television show, is posted on the show's website. It explains that he was a heavy smoker for many years, but switched to Nicorette gum when his son was born. On a long flight to Europe, Chappell said he had nowhere to throw away the gum, so he rolled it into a tiny ball, which grew as the trip progressed.

"What started out as kind of a joke between my daughter and me has turned into a really fun project over the last few years," Chappell said.

In an interview with the Daily Breeze, Chappell said he has chewed more Nicorette gum than anybody he's ever met.

"I can't believe I'm proud of this," he said.

Crafting the ball required some finesse, though we should warn the squeamish that his techniques weren't exactly hygienic.

Chappell softened the chewed gum in a sauna so he could sculpt it around the ball, which required a lot of kneading, stretching and molding.

Edward Meyer, Vice President of Exhibitions & Archives for Ripley's Believe It or Not!, appeared on Chappell's show to formally recognize the gumball.

"You've done something that's pretty unbelievable," Meyer said to Chappell. "That's amazing. I hope you're going to continue to work on it a little bit longer."

Meyer said the gumball would be put into the Ripley's museum when Chappell is finished chewing.

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-- Kimi Yoshino

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