Another meme - I have been known since adolescence to have a taste for "eating" plastic, particularly ballpoint pens. I could never abide the sickly sweetness of bubble or chewing gum. Tough chewable plastic is better than brittle plastic that breaks too easily and splinters in the mouth. A biro cannot reach the end of its natural life once I get to work, or rather chewing on it!
Morais was determined to break me of this habit so provided me with some sticks of Pau Ferro, literally "Iron Stick", which as its name suggests is extremely hard but highly chewable and with a slightly astringent bitter flavour. It has had the desired effect!
But I wonder if my life would have been different if these had been around - liquorice bark pencils! These have been specially designed for inveterate pencil chewers. The graphite only comes halfway up the pencil leaving a full two inches of delectable liquorice to chew on. I can see this easily being adapted to ballpoint pens.
However, Dangers of Licorice warns me that eating too much liquorice can lead to irregular heartbeat or even heart failure due to its glycyrrhetinic acid content. If you tend to overchew, you might be advised to seek out DGL (de-glycyrrhizinated) licorice.
From the Smithsonian (via bpoingboing): "Liquorice Wheels when consumed in large quantities, (glycyrrhetinic acid) can cause your body’s potassium levels to fall to the point that some people experience arrhythmia, a rise in blood pressure, swelling and even congestive heart failure. People taking diuretics or medications for high blood pressure should be especially wary as the licorice may inhibit the effectiveness of the drugs. How much is too much? According to the FDA, a diet including 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks might merit a trip to the hospital to have an irregular heart beat checked out. And consuming one to two pounds of licorice candy in one go may cause the blood vessels in your eyes to spasm, causing temporarily impaired vision. Though predominately a concern for persons over 40, it is recommended that everyone should moderate a high licorice intake."
One symptom of potassium deficiency is leg cramps from which I have suffered in the past. My solution has always been to eat lots of potassium-rich bananas!