Profile America — Saturday, December 28th. One of life's simple pleasures, and subsequent adornments under tabletops and chair seats, was patented on this date in 1869 -- chewing gum. The inventor was a dentist from Ohio, Dr. William Semple, who hoped that the flavored gum would help people keep their teeth clean. Others, such as Thomas Adams and John Colgan, perfected the consistencies and flavors, and gum was avidly accepted by the public, though criticized by newspaper editorials, politicians, clergymen and women's groups as a vulgar habit. While some may still hold that view, lately around 380,000 pounds of chewing and bubble gum are manufactured in the U.S. annually, with a value of $1.6 billion. Our favorite flavors are cinnamon, spearmint, and peppermint. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau on the Web at <www.census.gov>.