Maybe you had that one math teacher who was known for snacking on chalk in front of the class, or you knew a kid from childhood who couldn’t keep his colorful sidewalk kit out of his mouth, or maybe you’ve just been watching a lot of My Strange Addiction –– whatever the reason, chances are you’ve encountered the phenomenon of eating chalk before, in some shape or form.
Why though? Don’t we usually try to avoid food that tastes “chalky”? As it turns out, most people who eat chalk regularly have some form of pica, an eating disorder that involves repeatedly (and intentionally) ingesting something that isn’t food – like paper, soap, wool, paint, or, of course, chalk.
But if it had any kind of nutritional value, surely there would be a trendy chalky latte by now, right? Well, yes, probably, because chalk definitely isn’t a required part of a balanced diet. Unless you’re eating it by the bundle, chalk shouldn’t really hurt you either, but be wary of brands that pack in additives and drying agents that aren’t necessarily good for your insides. They’re not trying to produce a food, so there’s no obligation to make sure their chalk is safe to ingest.
Even though your doctor isn’t recommending snacking on sticks of chalk to cure what ails you, they might actually endorse a pretty similar product: Tums. Tums Antacids are almost entirely made of calcium carbonate, otherwise known as chalk, used to help soothe an unruly digestive system with a little too much acid rocking around its walls.
So next time you have a craving for something chalky and illicit, maybe just chew on some antacids instead –– we aren’t expecting chalky lattes to become popular anytime soon.