Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Brief Interlude

Dear Readers,

We have been ecstatically overwhelmed lately by the web-wide attention we have gotten in the last couple weeks. We'd like to take this opportunity to say hello and welcome to our new fans, and a big thank you to our friends at Neatorama, Tosh.0 on comedycentral.com, Serious Eats, and boingboing gadgets!

We're excited to announce some exciting new changes to Gum Alert in the next few days, including a fantastic new page design, a special celebrity guest review, contests, and of course more of the gum reviews that you know and love.

To kick-off the expansion and enhancement of Gum Alert, we have joined the Twitter community! Both Katie and I don't really understand it, but we've signed up for a Twitter account and we promise to figure it out soon and "tweet" regularly! We'd love it if you would follow us and help us get started over there.

While you're at, or if you're not a twitterer (tweeter?), Become A Fan of Gum Alert on Facebook!

Again, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We never thought that our little gum blog would take off this way, and we are touched by the outpouring of support. We're always open to suggestions and criticisms, we would love to hear from you, so go on and shoot us an email at gumalert@gmail.com.

Shannon and Katie

Monday, June 29, 2009

Trident Xtra Care Spearmint

Flavor: Up until now, I’ve felt conflicted in my critiques of the various versions of this classic flavor. Each seemed unfairly delicious, more delicious than the last and yet unique in its own special way. When I chewed my first piece of Trident Xtra Care, I was relieved to discover that it fell so short of its Spearmint competitors that I would have no problem reviewing it. The flavor lacks that special sweet edge typical of other Spearmints, and really just embodies the cold, harsh “other” taste that’s usually softened by the sweetness. And to boot, whatever flavor it does have fades in a matter of seconds.

Texture: Rubbery. Too firm, through and through. It’s as if you’ve already been chewing it for twenty minutes the first time you put it in your mouth. Stale. Fail.

Overall: Once again, as with my review of Trident Xtra Care Cool Mint, I feel as if the only thing this gum has going for it is its “Xtra Care.” When I went to the Web site to read more, as the package indicated, I found that the Spearmint variety wasn’t even listed. When I clicked on the Cool Mint, it provided information about “Recaldent, a unique form of calcium,” that has various positive effects on teeth. I’m no doctor, so I can’t argue with all that scientific jargon. I rate gum, not dental hygiene products. Besides, it can be safely said that all sugar-free gum, particularly Trident, cares a little “extra” for your teeth. I chew gum to strengthen my teeth in the same way that I drink wine for its antioxidants—it’s a nice bonus, but hardly reason for addiction. Super-uber-special-healthy or not, this gum just falls short.
Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wrigley's 5 Solstice

Flavor: Solstice is marketed as a "warm and cool winter," and as I chew I struggle with that statement, perhaps so much so that it detracts from my enjoyment of the flavor. Along with Zing, Solstice is one of two new flavors introduced to the Wrigley's 5 lineup this spring. Zing was described as a "sour to sweet bubble," and I went in knowing that, and it was a perfect description. The marketing folks at Wrigley's got Zing spot on, but I think they tried a little too hard with Solstice here. I'm just not getting a "warm and cool winter at all." I just get "mint." That being said, it's a great mint. It's different than your usual mints, I would say somewhere in between a peppermint and a wintermint, with a little more sweetness. It's exhilarating and strong (but not too strong), and as with other 5 gums, the flavor lasts.

Texture: Starts off soft and stays soft without falling apart into nothing. This is what texture is all about. I would trust Solstice to stick with me through a long business meeting if I happened to forget to bring the wrapper or a tissue with me for disposal.

Overall: As a whole, Wrigley's 5 line is impressive, and Solstice does not disappoint. I have to point out the packaging on this one, too - it's one of my favorite gum packagings. While I do have my issues with the popular new "pocket pack" style of gum and still lament the loss of my dear Plen-T-Paks, the ribbed cardstock, combined with the smooth, shiny logo and wispy artwork make for a perfect presentation.
Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wrigley's 5 Rain

Flavor: First of all, let’s get real here, 5. I’m all for catchy marketing campaigns, but if we’re being honest, this flavor is not “Rain.” It’s Spearmint. Plain and simple. It’s green like spearmint, it’s minty like spearmint, and it’s sweet like spearmint. Now that that’s established, I’ve got to say—it’s one heck of a spearmint. It’s a perfect blend of minty and sweet, it captures that traditional flavor (see Trident Spearmint and Orbit Spearmint blogs) and holds on to it for as long as you choose to chew. It’s long-lasting, refreshing, and pays great homage to its many spearmint original predecessors. It’s been a while since I’ve tried the other spearmint varieties, but I have to say, if I’m in the mood for spearmint from now on, I’m reaching for “Rain.”

Texture: I’m going to have to say that for the first time in a long time, I’ve found a gum with a texture that rivals both Trident and Orbit. Although most of the 5 varieties are less-than-impressive with their texture qualities, Rain is, dare I say, perfect. It’s a big, meaty bite, that decreases in size (as it should, and chemically must), but that maintains a really nice, firm, malleable chew that never really hardens or softens beyond prime. It’s a damn good chew.

Overall: I’ve had good luck with gums lately, I have to say. Rain is one of those gums I looked forward to chewing, a real “end your meal with a bang” kind of treat. One lone stick was taunting me in my bag for two days, begging to be chewed even if reviewing was not possible at that time. I almost went out and bought a second pack just for reviewing purposes. Sorry to ruin your summer, folks, but the forecast is calling for Rain every day.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Orbit Maui Melon Mint

Flavor: No. Just, no. Is this supposed to taste like watermelon? Or Mint? Or both? Because it doesn't taste like either. It smells peculiarly like Choward's Violets, and I bet that's what I'm tasting, too. The taste is completely nondescript, vaguely sweet and somewhat bitter. It leaves a gross taste in the back of my mouth that I associate with "aftertaste," but it happens DURING the chew, not after. I don't want aftertaste in mid-chew. Big fail. In fact - once I remove the gum from my mouth, the actual aftertaste is, in fact, more pleasant than the duringtaste itself.

Texture: Like most Orbit, the texture is fine. Starts off soft, and firms up to be the perfect chewable consistency. If this review was based on texture alone, it'd get far more gumballs.

Overall: I cannot recommend Orbit Maui Melon Mint to any sane person. There are far better melony gums on the market, if that's what you're craving for. I'd even suggest resorting to a sugared watermelon-flavored gum - a Hubba Bubba or a BubbleYum - if you absolutely have to. But stay away from this one. Stay far away.
Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trident Splash Peppermint Swirl

Flavor: A delight. It has everything I like about Trident Minty Sweet Twist, but it’s unique in its own way. It’s very accurately named and packaged—Starlight mints are pictured—and I can say that it’s very pleasantly reminiscent of those after-dinner mints you get at the diner that always leave your teeth sort of cruddy. Shannon asked that I mention the liquid center-- so, it's good, but it's not the focal point of the gum, which is a really good thing. This gum is not gimmicky, it doesn't rely on the fleeting burst of liquid to maintain its flavor, but it provides all the bells and whistles (outer candy shell, molten core) that complement a solid, flavorful piece of gum.

Texture: It’s really pleasant for a pellet gum. A nice crunch at first, and the crunch lasts for a fair amount of time before fading into a substantial consistency. I can’t say I’ve done the long-term test on this gum, but I’ve never thrown it out for lack of flavor or for a rubbery texture. Most pellet gums get way too little way too quickly, but this one maintains size and composition eloquently.

Overall: I have to admit that this gum almost didn’t get reviewed this week. I bought it two days ago, in anticipation of my gumblog, and I almost ate the whole pack before it was even my turn to post. There has been one lone pellet sitting in my purse for more than 24 hours, which means two things: 1. ) there’s not enough gum in a pellet pack (only nine pieces?!), and 2.) it was really good for a pellet gum. I’m usually fairly anti-pellet gum, but this gum has all so many of the things I like about gum that I’m willing to excuse its form. Now that I’ve found a pellet gum that I actually enjoy, I’m going to propose that all gums of this variety should be packaged in barrel form—seen in eclipse and some orbit flavors—that lends it self to quantities in the dozens rather than in disappointing pop-out rows of three or four. I’ll definitely buy this one again if my tried-and-true isn’t available, which says something for a gum that’s about 17 cents a piece.
Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Orbit Mist Peppermint Spray

Flavor: Phenomenal. Outstanding. Fantastic. Superb. Awesome. The initial burst of Orbit Mist Peppermint Spray is something a gum lover could only dream of, not quite nasal-passage clearing but certainly breath-freshening, and beyond. This gum is being advertised as "the wettest gum in the world," and while that description doesn't sound very appetizing, I have to say it's spot on. It's salivary gland stimulation goes above and beyond, and it does indeed quench a thirst. The flavor, I might add, has lasted as long as I've kept a piece in my mouth, which would probably be in the neighborhood of 45 minutes or so.

Texture: The "micro-bursts" on first chew are exhilarating and refreshing. They have such a pleasant and unique grainy texture to them, and they last for the perfect amount of time, until you don't feel like crunchy gum anymore, and you are left with the perfect texture through the chew.

Overall: In a word- a masterpiece. Orbit Mist Peppermint Spray is absolutely, without a doubt my #2 favorite gum at the moment, surpassing Trident Passionberry Twist by a long shot. In fact, I would not be surprized if this gum eventually took top billing, bumping my Extra Polar Ice to the silver podium. This is only my second pack, so I'm not quite ready to do that yet, but oh, Orbit, you have outdone yourself here. Your Mist line, I have to say, is extraordinary. Even if the fruity counterparts, Mango Surf and Watermelon Splash fall short, Peppermint Spray makes this new line extention more than worth it.
Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trident Watermelon Twist

Flavor: On the package, three slices of fruit are pictured: honeydew melon, watermelon, and what appears to be cantaloupe. On my palette I taste exactly this many fruit flavors: ZERO. There’s not even an initial burst of *any*thing. When you first bite down, there’s this dull sort-of-watermelony taste that is so weak it is barely even detectable, it’s almost like smelling the piece of gum and chewing it are the same experience. The more you chew, the less flavor you get, if that’s even possible. It’s this barely detectable nutra-sweet nothing that never satisfies anything. Watermelon Twist is like a really bad blind date. An ugly one. With bad breath. That just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Texture: Its starts out bad and gets worse. I can’t even elaborate, it’s really plain and simple. It’s like gnawing on a rubber band.

Overall: I bought this gum a long time ago and vowed never to buy it again because of its intense suckiness, but alas, the gumblog calls, and people like catty ranting diatribes. I’m so disappointed in Trident that I want to just break up with it and upgrade to a gum that meets more of my complicated masticating needs, but my unconditional love of Trident Minty Sweet Twist (swoon...) is worth keeping Trident and me together for now. I won’t even finish this pack, and that says something. So, sorry Watermelon Twist. You’ll just have to chew yourself tonight.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dentyne Arctic Chill

Flavor: In a word: WOW. This gum is, by far, the blastiest blast of flavor I've ever tried to date. The candy shell is like infused with menthol or something, and on first bite it really will clear your sinuses. If you need some freshening, I don't think there's any gum out there better for you than this one. It stays pretty strong for a fair amount of time as well - it fades from explosive to quite pleasant, and as long as you have a piece of this in your mouth, you will never be exposed for your affinity to garlic bread or red wine.

Texture: Again, fantastic. As a rule, pellet gum texture leaves something to be desired, but Dentyne Arctic Chill is alright by me. It's a tiny bit softer than my personal perfect preference, and it has an ever-so-slight squeak, but it's absolutely got the best texture in pellets out there. My only legitimate qualm is that the pieces are small, but that's no biggie and certainly not worth negative points.

Overall: If I didn't prefer stick gum over pellet gum, I find it safe to say that this would be my favorite gum. I just don't like popping pellets out of blisters. One time I had one of those 50-piece cups of this in my car and it was gone within a week. I almost looked forward to my trips to the grocery store just because I knew that I could chew a couple pieces of this gum. And so, Dentyne Arctic Chill, this gumblogger is proud to proclaim you the first pellet gum worthy of the coveted five gumballs.
Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trident Strawberry Twist

Flavor: Much like its Orbit rival, the new Trident Strawberry Twist is reminiscent of a very distinct flavor from my past—not Big League Chew, but McDonald’s Strawberry milkshakes. At first whiff of the gum inside the packaging I sensed that delightful, creamy, strawberry twang of a McShake, but I tried to convince myself it was in my head. Then came the BURST of flavor, and I confirmed its likeness to that milky pink treat. Every so often I’ll smell it wafting from my bag and crave it, yearning to delight its satisfying flavor. I found myself even thinking about the gum as the week went on, looking forward to the burst of milkshaky goodness as many times in a day as I wanted (with no indigestion or brain freeze). Unfortunately it goes downhill from the burst. Surprisingly, the flavor fades in a matter of a minute at most—an unusual characteristic for Trident gums. The flavor is such a pleasure, however, that I usually chew two or three pieces in one sitting, just to enjoy the burst.

Texture: It’s your average Trident at first, but it loses that reliable Trident texture quickly. It decreases in size and becomes rather hard, and if you chew it for long enough (which I’ve only done once) to get past the initial strange hardening, you’ll find that it’s pretty squeaky, much like many pellet gums, also an unusual trait for a stick of this variety.

Overall: It’s delicious. I don’t drink McDonald’s strawberry shakes anymore for one reason or another, but I can definitely see myself buying this gum again for a little after-meal treat. It’s nothing I want on my breath; it’s not a freshener in the least. Nor is it any kind of “Twist"-- I think they were stretching it with the title, but at least they didn’t claim “Mint” like Orbit. I’ll chew it again, just as sure as I’ll someday buy another McMilkShake, at 3 in the morning, on my way home from the bar.
Rating: ooo (three gumballs)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dentyne Ice Mint Medley

Flavor: The packaging of this gum calls out a "sweet blend of flavors." I don't know if they're referring actual flavor of the mint blend being sweet, or if they're using the word "sweet" in a slang sense like all the kids are doing nowadays. (Get off my lawn.) Either way, I don't get "sweet" from this gum very much at all. Like all pellet gums, it's got a hard candy shell that is jam-packed with flavor. Once that powerful burst subsides, it's just like any old mint gum. I suppose it's a nice "medley," I can sense spearmint along with the requisite peppermint, and if I concentrate hard enough I even think I can taste a little wintermint in there. It's nothing special, but it certainly doesn't suck.

Texture: Standard pellet texture. Starts off crunchy which I always like, and when the shell dissolves it's got a nice, if somewhat firm, texture. One thing about this gums, like most other pellet gums, it's that the pieces are small. I am generally a two-stick chewer, and even two pellets don't cut it for me. If I'm going to chew this gum for any length of time, I'm gonna need at least three pieces, and that's just not economical. Also? It kind of squeaks.

Overall: A decent gum. Nothing special, certainly not horrible, but not a gum I would tout very highly. It's average, at best.
Rating: ooo (Three gumballs)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Orbit Strawberry Mint

Flavor: I’ve purchased this gum before and it drove me crazy the first time—what the hell does this flavor remind me of? Every time I chewed it I couldn’t even really enjoy it because I was so focused on figuring out what the hell it was. Piece by piece, the pack dwindled until at last it was gone, the mystery unsolved, the question unanswered, and all too soon did I forget about it altogether. Upon peeling back the plastic outer shell of Orbit Strawberry Mint (another “mint” fallacy, by the way), I instantly remembered the mysterious reminder—oh, what is that—and didn’t even have to pop a piece in my mouth before I knew the answer. Strawberry Big League Chew. With a sigh of relief and a very genuine smile (a rarity during the work day), I put a piece in my mouth and silently congratulated Orbit on taking on an impossible and commendable task that they may not have even realized they were tackling—a healthy version of my beloved childhood favorite.

Texture: Of course, it’s not the stringy-to-grainy-to-gushy big league chew (which is admittedly a good thing). Texture-wise this gum leaves something to be desired, though, becoming too smooth and mushy for my tastes, but maintaining form nonetheless.

Overall: The flavor fades quickly and the texture too, but all-in-all I need to give this gum an ultimate rating just because of that childish glee that bursts into my mouth upon the first bite. Although I didn’t recognize it at first, it’s overpowering to the senses even sitting idle in the pack, unchewed—it’s that Strawberry Big League Chew, all over again, and it isn’t rotting my teeth in my mouth.
Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trident Splash Citrus with Blackberry

Flavor: The flavor of Trident Splash Citrus with Blackberry is pleasant. It's a pop-out gum with a candy shell. It's a pretty bland citrus base that has a fantastically tart liquid center. Unfortunately, the citrus flavor fades to a boring generic "sweet," and the tart blackberry liquid is gone almost before you can even begin to enjoy it.

Texture: This gum has a LOT going on at first. It's almost overwhelming - almost. You bite down on the shell and it crunches into a slighty too-soft gum and then... WHAM! You're blasted with the liquid center explosion. It's pretty awesome. Once the liquid dissipates and the candy shell dissolves, the gum you're left with has a surprizingly good texture, for a pop-out pellet gum. It doesn't lose cohesion, but it does get that waxy feel in it after a while. All in all, I was pleasantly surprized by the texture of Trident Splash Citrus with Blackberry.

Overall: I can't see this being anyone's favorite. It's certainly not mine. But all in all, it's a FUN gum for those times when you're sick of cinnamon, bored of bubblegum, or just want something new and different than your usual mundane mint. (Alliteration.) It's reminiscent of many sugary liquid-filled gums and candy of my youth, without the unpleasant dental side-effects. For those few and far-between times when I feel like being a kid for just a few minutes, I can see myself picking up a pack of Trident Splash Citrus with Blackberry and letting myself enjoy the multi-layered experience. I don't think this gum was really MEANT to have a long-lasting, breath-freshening flavor or a steadfast, smooth texture. This gum was meant to KAPOW your mouth, and that it does.
Rating: oooo (four gumballs)