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The Pike Place Market gum wall cleaning is expected to be finished Thursday

An estimated 1 million pieces of chewed gum are coming off the wall

CNN  — 

Mounds of amalgamated goo are melting off Pike Place Market’s famous gum wall in Seattle.

Three workers from Cascadian Building Maintenance started the three-day task of stripping 20 years worth of accumulated chew back down to the brick on Tuesday.

“It smells of a mixture of watermelon, spearmint and pink bubble gum,” said Pike Place spokeswoman Emily Crawford. “It’s reminiscent of how powerful the alley smells in the summertime, when you can smell the gum from about a block away.”

It’s the first time in two decades that the market’s gum wall and Post Alley have received a deep cleaning. An estimated 1 million pieces of chewed gum will be removed.

Clad in rain gear, gloves and rubber boots, the workers are using industrial steam cleaners to shoot out a gallon of 260˚ water per minute. Gum and water are flowing out of the alley, where a collection system is catching gum and trash before the water flows into a storm drain.

The gum will be weighed by the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority before it’s thrown out, according to the Seattle Times.

“This is probably the weirdest job we’ve done,” Cascadian Building Maintenance’s Kelly Foster told the Seattle Times before the project started.

The job is expected to cost $4,000, the newspaper reports. Market officials know that avid chewers are still likely to deposit their gum on the wall, but they’re hoping the clean-up helps contain its spread across the market’s historic walls.

The curious tourist draw has earned the dubious distinction of being named the world’s second-germiest attraction, after Ireland’s Blarney Stone. And to mark the big clean, the market is hosting a gum wall photo contest on its Facebook page.

A must-see for Seattle visitors, Pike Place Market opened more than a century ago on August 17, 1907.

Fishmongers at the market toss the day’s catch with great flourish. The market is also known for the flagship Starbucks location, which opened in 1971.