Who popularised the idea that you should chew a mouthful food 27 times before swallowing it?

This was something my grandfather use to say. Initially, I thought its originator might have been Horace Fletcher (1849–1919), “The Great Masticator”, but he said food should be chewed about 100 times a minute before being swallowed.

I think that was William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of England in the 19th Century.

I always heard 32 chews, and the explanation was that you have 32 teeth. Never heard 27.

Perhaps the OP’s grandfather had lost a few teeth?

Wouldn’t chewing more allow more calorie absorption? Seems like chewing less would be healthier, at least with modern diets.

I’d blame it on union organizers/negotiators, who lobbied for longer lunch breaks in their contracts.

He was certainly said to be, but I suspect that was motherspeak, or nannyspeak, attaching a famous name to some older folk “wisdom” - it’s common sense, after all, to discourage a child from gulping down large chunks of solid food that their gullet can’t cope with.

I distinctly remember hearing a radio interview with Violet Bonham-Carter (a daughter of one of Gladstone’s colleagues and successors), and she was just old enough to be allowed to be at a family dinner he came to. She watched his chewing carefully and counted, and was very disappointed to discover he didn’t chew his food anything like as much as she had been told to.

It sounds like it’s related to the work of Horace Fletcher, “The Great Masticator”:

He died just before the idea of calories (that is, the idea that the body isn’t a magical mass-making machine) caught on, which rendered his (admittedly faddish) ideas utterly obsolete, not that they had any solid basis to begin with.

I remember a kids history show about 30 years ago saying it was Dr kellogg who popularised this. I’ve just googled and it turns out he was a friend and fan of Fletcher and promoted this idea at his health farms.

The idea was in the popular imagination by 1880 at least. A magazine article that year about British schoolgirls’ writing errors included the sentence “First we put the food in our mouth, then it is shewed; some people say our food is shewed 27 times.” cite

Prior to a couple incidents in my teens, each involving a piece of steak that had not been sufficiently chewed that could not be swallowed (had to be unswallowed), and another incident later involving a fishbone that I couldn’t unswallow, I was “chew a couple of times, then swallow” kind of guy. Not so now.

I do not know how many times I chew each bite (strange, I seem to count just about everything else), but I invariably hold up anyone unlucky enough to dine with me, while I chew the flavor out of each bite. In addition to my fear of choking, my dislike of foods on my plate touching each other only adds to the time it takes me to finish a meal; if I don’t like food touching other food on my plate, how could I ever push a french fry in my mouth while I’m chewing a bite of hamburger?

27? Child’s play. 100? Getting closer…

Funny fictualized take on this in the Matthew Broderick movie The Road to Wellville. It takes place at Kellogs retreat and includes Fletcher’s wacky ideas and other woo from that time including treatment for “hysteria”.

I would think that among non-carnivores chewing solid food is necessary for nutrient absorption, and maybe even for swallowing unless the food is cut into small peices and taken with fluid. I.e. if you don’t chew you will die a lot sooner from malnutrition than from obesity. As in decades sooner.

Not only that, but your shit won’t smell; and not only that, if it does, it smells like biscuits! Hot biscuits!
“One of the most noticeable and significant results of economic nutrition gained through careful attention to the mouth-treatment of food, or buccal-digestion, is, not only the small quantity of waste obtained but its inoffensiveness. Under best test-conditions the ashes of economic digestion have been reduced to one-tenth of the average given as normal in the latest text-books on Physiology.

The economic digestion-ash forms in pillular shape and when released these are massed together, having become so bunched by considerable retention in the rectum. There is no stench, no evidence of putrid bacterial decomposition, only the odour of warmth, like warm earth or “hot biscuit.” Test samples of excreta, kept for more than five years, remain inoffensive, dry up, gradually disintegrate and are lost.”

Fletcher, Horace. The New Glutton or Epicure

I have heard that nuts need a great deal of mastication. Their proteins don’t break down in the digestive track unless chewed well.

It’s not completely horrible. It slows down the eating process, which reduces the number of calories consumed over time. And that allows time for the body to register itself as full.

I know people who swear by the idea of eating small portions and then just waiting 20 minutes before getting more.