Pica is a compulsion or habit to eat things that are not food, such as cigarette butts, dirt, and coins. Swallowing gum probably doesn't count because it's usually completely in your mouth when used as intended.
I had shared my idea with one or two of my intro psych profs at cnc. At least one had encouraged me to pursue it is as legit academic research in the future.
Filling in the blanks... It was that some quirk in the hypothalamus made it perceive there to be a nutritional need that wasn't being met with real food, but could be addressed by whatever nonfood was being eaten. It would explain things that didn't accumulate like cigarettes or loose soil. It didn't explain coins, which would accumulate and be digested slowly. I imagined a nutritional bar that could contain the less dangerous nonfood substances that pica sufferers would be ingesting, hopefully as a safer alternative that would reduce cravings. It was to be called pica chew.
This is a real story and not just a lead up to that awful pun. Blame 2004 me for the name.
This idea and the way in which it was received played a role in my motivation to do graduate school, even though it ended up being in something much different. Thanks for reading and indulging this mental spring cleaning.