OP, you just destroyed Romania's most well kept secret, I will have to send the BubbleGum Mafia to cover you in strawberry jelly now. Prepare to suffer.
Now that's in the open, I can tell you that this is completely true. The romanian currency, RON, doesn't really exist. Sure, when some stupid foreigner comes in and goes to an exchange house, he gets some colored bills, but those are actually printed on the spot. Some merchants will accept them, because it's fun to play along, but in reality we only deal with alternate currencies: chewing gum (with or without sugar, with sugar = 0,9 without sugar), instant coffee, baking soda, young gipsy children, prepaid mobile credit and so on.
These are used in shops because they are small and easy to carry, but on my business I usually deal with more valuable items. Last week I installed a few servers in a new office for a customer. I got the meat of a pretty big pig (I love pork steaks) and two brand new winter tires. I hope I can get another two tires from another customer who usually pays in chicken eggs. And I hope winter comes fast or that pork might go bad.
In the summer is better, because I get fruits and vegetables, in the winter usually objects. I remember 2 years ago a customer paid for a pretty large project (more than 6 months of work) with a second hand car, stolen from Germany. He was so nice he even gave me three sets of fake plates and gave me the number of a guy who can make me new plates on the spot. I actually went and made a set with 'ovidiusoft rulez!' and I paid with a few kilos of oranges and bananas.
I live on a flat so I don't accept living animals, but a good friend has a pretty large courtyard and he prefers to get chickens, ducks and so on. He has fresh eggs all the time, and last year he had a cow too (he also had a pretty big programming project). He would milk the cow in the morning, pour the milk in a few bottles, go to the store, get a pack of cigarettes and some change (chewing gum, of course - perfect for the smoker's bad breath).
Anyway, he lost the cow when he had to pay his taxes. They didn't want to accept eggs only, they insisted he need to pay 16% cow (the profit tax is 16% in Romania) so he had to give them 16% of the cow. That was one bloody tax payment, let me tell you... It was delicious, though.
PS: Don't believe everything you read on the intertubes. It's been known that they will try to give you a gum or an instant coffee in small shops, mostly because they are trying to push some more stuff on you rather than because they don't have change, but it's not nearly as common place as you might understand from those articles. If that much gum was stolen, it's probably because it's easy to sell to children near schools and playgrounds.