Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry and Happy Everything!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lucky Lights Bubble Gum

Presentation: I've decided that the presentation of this gum takes precedence over its other properties, as it is presented to children as a fairly realistic looking pack of cigarettes. I seem to remember candy cigarettes changing their appearance to be less realistic, sort of like the orange tip on toy guns. I also was surprised to find bubble gum cigarettes, as I remember Lucky Lights as chalky sugar sticks that dissolved all too quickly in your mouth. Alas, these bubble gum cigarettes taste nothing like the familiar candy sticks of days gone by. But boy, are they more realistic looking. I wouldn't be pleased if my niece walked in the room with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, brown filter and all (that is, of course, when she's out of diapers). "Oh no, Aunt Katie, it's only bubblegum!" Then we'd have to have a big stupid talk about why smoking is bad and chewing gum is good and never the twain shall meet. I digress.

Flavor: This gum is gross. It doesn't even taste like bubblegum. It's too sweet, and what little flavor it has fades almost immediately. I'd venture to say it tastes more like a cigarette than a piece of bubblegum.

Texture: Even worse. It hardened up before it even crumbled. The emphasis here was obviously on the presentation, and the makers of this gum felt that flavor and texture needn't be addressed when marketing such a self-selling, sure-thing gum like this. I mean come on, kids, smoking is cool, right?

Overall: Wrong. Boo hiss, Lucky Lights. Now I'm sure this isn't going to get kids to run out to the store and try to buy a pack of real cigs, and I'm sure it's really fun for a kid to pretend to smoke a pack (hey, I ate plenty of candy smokes in my day), but I don't think kids think smoking is all that cool anymore. It stinks, both literally and figuratively. I think the fact that I could only find this gum in a candy shop in Time Square (and a stale pack at that) is a testament to the fact that kids aren't really eating these things up anymore, and that's a good thing. Now if you ask me, I think this gum does have a chance, if only a slim one, at remaining on the market in time for my niece to actually show an interest in gum (oh, they grow up so fast...). And that's if Nicorette steps up to the plate, throws some actual Nicotine in these things, and markets them to adults who actually would care for a smoke, but know they probably shouldn't anymore.

Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bubblicious Grape

Flavor: Katie and I have been known to have quite lengthy discussions on our opinions of artificial vs. natural flavors. My opinions on grape are clear: Artificial grape is the bomb, yo, and it doesn't get any better than grape sugared bubblegum. While I think Bubblicious could have upped the tartness a bit, it's a worthy grape, indeed. Fades quickly, but that's to be expected in this genre.

Texture: The meaty purple cube is just perfect, never too hard or too soft, and the bubbles are phenomenal. I couldn't ask for more.

Presentation: You know, with all the changes in the Gum Packaging world, from the near extinction of the 25-cent packs, to the Plen-T-Pack/Slim Pack evolution, you gotta kind of appreciate the consistency in sugared bubblegums like Bubblicious and Hubba Bubba. The presentation is exactly the same as when I was a kid: a 5-piece pack with the little pull-tab. It's a familar comfort. The graphics are simple yet eye-catching, featuring bright colors and the trendy "swirls" that the iPod generation seems to be so fond of.

Overall: Some gums are just hard to review, and this is one of them. It's just such a timeless classic. When you pick up a pack of Bubblicious Grape, you know what you're getting. You're not "trying it," there are no surprizes or mysteries... it's just a good gum.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Big Red

Flavor: “No little gum freshens breath longer than Big Red.” I just spent the better part of an hour watching old Big Red commercials on You Tube, and although I enjoyed every second of it, I have to admit that I never did understand the marketing plan for Big Red. Cinnamon gum isn’t refreshing, it’s sort of the opposite of that. Like the candy red hots, this gum produces a heat in your mouth (that does, admittedly, "go on and on while you chew it.") But I’m not sure I’d be so inclined to lock lips with somebody who’d been chewing it with the kind of passion portrayed in these commercials. In fact, when someone’s chewing Big Red, you can smell it across the room, and your general reaction isn’t, “My, what fresh breath that stallion has! I want to kiss him for a long, long time,” but rather, “Oh god, that guy’s chewing Big Red, I can smell it all the way over here.” But I don't care; those commercials are timeless and I don’t fault them for filming dozens of cheesy scenarios based on that simple jingle.

Texture: Based on the commercials, you’ll be too busy frenching somebody to ever actually chew a piece of Big Red. It’s a good piece of gum, texture-wise, a lot to chew and doesn’t toughen up. It produces an unpleasant foamy saliva in my mouth, but I think that might be the sugar combined with the heat, to which I’m a little sensitive.

Presentation: This new fangled “slim pack,” to me, is just as disoncerting as the new take on the Big Red commercial (more on that later). These packs used to be five for a quarter. Sure, now the packs are big and flashy and fit in your back pocket, but they used to fit in your front pocket. If you ask me, if it aint broke, don’t fix it.

Overall: I wasn’t kidding when I said I really enjoyed watching all the Big Red videos. I counted: at least five guys so caught up in kissing that they missed a car ride as it pulled away (and another two that missed a boat-- not to mention two who actually missed their queue in a parade), a pair of kids necking in a photobooth, another couple through a window while her parents were asleep, a pair posing for a sculptor, some campers, a racecar driver, a politician, a couple in a medieval theatre troop, a football player (who misses his bus), and a bride and groom, just to name a few. Let’s face it-- Big Red makes everybody all hot and bothered! The commercials are simultaneously wholesome and scandalous. I was going to hyperlink every commercial that I just referenced, but the whole dang paragraph would be blue.

It just attests to the fact that Big Red has sold gum for decades using the same old nostalgic, formulaic commercial again and again. Why did they trade it in for a singer juggling a pack of CGI gum? In fact, the initial concept was such a successful commercial, that the behemoth Verizon changed the lyrics and made their own version. Even if it was a spoof, Verizon recognized the power of the Big Red spot and capitalized on it. That's thinking like a major corporation.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make out endlessly with my boyfriend in a phone booth in the rain, or something equally surprising and ironic. 

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)