1. What is the common custom as to whether or not to make a Bracha on chewing gum?
2. Do you say a shehakol if you take a drink of water for the sake of swallowing a pill?
1. A berachah is required, because a person swallows the “taste” that emerges from the chewing gum, and this is the normal way in which the gum is “eaten.” Although some argue that a blessing should not be made, the common custom is to recite a blessing (of shehakol) over the gum. Of course, no after-berachah is recited.
2. No berachah is recited, unless the water is also being drunk to quench a person’s thirst.
1. Shulchan Aruch (210:2) rules that for tasting alone, no blessing is recited. Magen Avraham (9) explains that where the item in question is not swallowed, there was no enactment for reciting a blessing, and refers to Rema in 567 (3) which discusses chewing cinnamon sticks. Some have brought this as a proof that one should not recite a blessing over chewing gum, for it is comparable to cinnamon sticks, which will also cause give off taste that is swallowed with a person’s saliva. Zera Emes (87) includes the chewing of a “sweet stick that moistens the mouth, and spitting it out after it is fully chewed” in the ruling of Rema.
Based on these sources, Birkas Hashem (see ma’amarim 1) writes that a blessing should not be made.
However, others write that one must recite a blessing on the “flavored saliva” that one swallows after chewing the gum, and seek to defer the proofs mentioned above (see Kol Ha-Torah vol. 2, p. 35ff). This is the ruling given in Yabia Omer (vol. 7, no. 33), in Rivevos Efraim (in a number of places), in Vezos Haberachah (without mentioning any debate on the subject), and it would appear that this is the common custom.
It can be suggested that chewing gum is different from chewing a cinnamon stick, because cinnamon sticks are not made for chewing, and chewing them is not the ‘normal way of consumption.’ For chewing gum, however, the way in which one derives benefit is specifically by means of chewing without swallowing, and the gum is created for this purpose. Therefore, there is greater room to consider the chewing of the gum as ‘enjoyment of eating,’ and a blessing must be made.
2. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 204:7, and Biur Halachah.