Oprah’s Biggest Pet Peeve Is Gum Chewing, and Says Her Grandmother Is To Blame

Oprah Winfrey can tolerate many things in life, but gum chewing is not one of them. Over the years, Oprah has made it clear that she cannot stand hearing or seeing people chew gum — and says her maternal grandmother is to blame for this.

Oprah Winfrey | Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Oprah distaste for gum chewing stems from her grandmother

Oprah’s pet peeve of gum chewing is something she has lived with since childhood.

In 2018, the media mogul appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she revealed that her hatred for the chewy candy stems from living with her grandmother in rural Mississippi.

“I intensely dislike it. It comes from childhood. I grew up poor in Mississippi and my grandmother – absolutely no hyperbole whatsoever,” the former talk show host shared.

Oprah explained that her grandmother had a habit of sticking old gum to various pieces of furniture with the intention of re-using it. As a child, the media mogul said she would often rub up against old pieces of gum around the house, which is why she despises the fan-favorite candy to this day.

“[She] used to try to save gum, so she would put it on the bedpost, she would put it on the cabinet,” Oprah continued. “As a child, I used to bump into it and it would rub up against me and you know what it’s like when you’ve taken it out of your mouth and it’s been out a couple of weeks? It’s bad. I was afraid of it.”

Oprah hates gum chewing so much that she ‘barred’ it from all of her offices

Over the years, Oprah has opened up about her hatred for gum chewing on more than one occasion.

In 2010, she told People, “I hate chewing gum. It makes me sick just to think about it. When people chew loudly or smack it and pull it out of their mouth, that’s the worst.”

During her interview with Colbert, Oprah admitted that she is so turned off by gum chewing that she’s even had banned from her production offices.

“I had it barred. It’s barred at my offices. Nobody is allowed,” she said.

But while it’s easy for her to avoid gum chewing at work, the inadvisable habit is not so avoidable when Oprah steps out into the real world.

“When I go out to the world, I can’t bar it,” she added. “I have no powers there. It’s a thing. I can’t stand it. Everybody I work with knows this. Do not chew gum in front of me. It creeps me out.”

Oprah called out a fellow celebrity for chewing gum in her presence

Though many people who’ve worked with Oprah know not to chew gum around her, one of her Wrinkle In Time co-stars actually broke her golden gum rule.

While speaking with Colbert, Oprah shared that she came across co-star Reese Witherspoon chewing gum one day on set and fought to keep her cool as the actor indulged in the candy right in front of her.

“Actually, Reese comes up to me on set and says, ‘Do you want a piece a piece of gum?'” Oprah recalled. “And she’s chewing it like that, and it’s green. Like, if it’s colored, I just go crazy.”

Colbert then asked the Oprah Winfrey Show host if Witherspoon knew of her hatred for gum, which Winfrey replied, “no she didn’t know, so I said, ‘You know, I have a problem with that’ and she said ‘what kind of problem?'”

The day after their interview, Colbert casually brought up the former talk show’s anecdote to Witherspoon, who claimed she had no idea gum-chewing was one of Lady O’s well-known no-no’s.


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“I didn’t know I’m not allowed to chew gum,” the actor said, before Colbert explained, “Obama doesn’t even do it around Oprah.”

The bottom line is, Oprah Winfrey is not, and never will be, here for anyone’s gum-chewing.