Thursday, December 22, 2011

Juicy Fruit Juicy Riddle

Flavor: Another "mystery" offering from Juicy Fruit, but I don't think that they blatantly ripped a recently discontinued gum flavor with this one, like Juicy Secret did.  I get mainly citrus here, with a distinctly "Orange Tic Tac" undertone.  There's also some passionfruit in there, but it's not overpowering or overwhelming.  It should be noted that the flavor, while good, fades really fast into a generic "artificial sweetener" taste.

Texture: Could be better.  It's a little too tough for my tastes, but those with an affinity for a firm chew will enjoy it.  It's difficult to spread on the tongue, but once it's on there, it blows decent bubbles.  The firmness contribues to an extra-loud crack, as well.

Presentation:  Not much more to say here that hasn't been said about Juicy Secret.  Standard Juicy Fruit logo with some purty rainbowy effect for the border.  I'm a sucker for blues/pinks/purples, so I'm a fan.

Overall:  It's an okay gum.  Certainly not one that'll be in my constant rotation, but I'll admit I chewed through at least one pack, and had to seek it out to re-buy it to review.  Worth a try if you're the type that like figuring out riddles.  I just think that the "mystery" ship has sailed... there's no more excitement about it when you're releasing a new mystery flavor every 6 months.  It's been done.

Rating: ooo (three gumballs)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry we've been a bit slow around these parts... The Gum Girls are a bit bogged down with work, travel, kids... well, LIFE, at the moment, but rest assured we've got a bunch of great gums coming up for you, including Wrigley's 5 Swerve, Trident Splashing Mint & Fruit, and Juicy Fruit Juicy Riddle, just to name a few! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Extra Smooth Mint

Flavor: The name says it all. It's a Smooth (dare I say "smoove?") Mint. It's heavier on peppermint than spearmint, but it's a nice mellow coolness that'll freshen your breath without taking your breath away like, say, Extra Polar Ice or a Dentyne pellet would do. The flavor lasts a really long time, too. It's not groundbreaking, but it's definitely nice to have another mint option that won't overwhelm the sinuses.

Texture: Starts off way too soft and a bit gritty, it takes a while for this one to really firm up into a chewable wad. But once it does, it's got a fantastic texture. Of course you can't blow any sort of respectable bubble, but if you're an experienced popper or cracker, you'll be able to annoy your officemate with a symphony of snaps.

Presentation: Nothing to write home about here. As we've said of Extra's packaging before, they let the gum do the legwork and shine for itself. They're certainly not wasting dollars in their graphic design department.

Overall: You know how some smells or tastes stick with you for life? As a Gum Girl, there are some gum flavors that will always take me back. A stick of Carefree Original Bubble will send me straight to the passenger seat of my mom's car. I know that Katie is in Boston at a Dispatch concert when she chews Trident Tropical Twist. And I don't ever think I'll be able to chew Winterfresh again, because it tastes like a badly-masked smoker's kiss to me.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of traveling for work to Sonoma, California to visit several wineries. It was the business trip of a lifetime. One of the most amazing wineries I went to was St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, in beautiful Santa Rosa. It was truly an awe-inspiring place. The facilities were pristine, the grounds were breathtaking, and the wine was a treat to the taste buds. After a special tour and dinner, our host, President & CEO Chris Silva brought our group into the vineyard where we toasted to good wine and good company. It was a moment that I won't soon forget.

I can always "return" to St. Francis at dinnertime by uncorking a bottle of Red Splash, but during work hours that's not really a possibility. Fortunately for me, just as we were leaving the winery, I popped a piece of Extra Smooth Mint for the car ride through the mountains from Sonoma into Napa. I put my head back and watched the full moon rise out the window, reflecting on St. Francis Winery and the amazing time I just had.

Now, whenever I chew this gum, my mind is transported back to the tranquil grounds of St. Francis, and the feeling of serenity I had while on my trip.

I don't expect you to feel that same feeling when chewing this gum, of course, but aside from the texture at the outset, it's a pretty great gum in an unexpected package.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Orbit Wildberry Remix

Flavor: Sometimes, when gum emulates a flavor we experience elsewhere in the world, it's a true delight. Chocolate chip mint ice cream, for example, or strawberry shortcake. But there are some flavors we don't ever want to experience again, like, say, grape Children's Chewable Tylenol. And that's exactly what Orbit Wildberry Remix tastes like to me. When I first opened the package, I thought it smelled a little like grape Big League Chew, and I was excited for that first piece, but I quickly realized upon chewing that the scent I'd detected from my childhood was none other than grape Children's Chewable Tylenol. I hated it then, and I hate it now. The smell is so overwhelming I may have to toss the rest of the pack. Who wants to be reminded of headaches and fevers? Not me.

Texture: I don't want to chew this long enough to find out how the texture will hold up. It's fine, I don't know, I just want to get this lousy taste out of my mouth.

Presentation: The fashion packs are getting cooler, that's for sure. There's a contest on the inside of the flap for a chance to win something called "Orbit bucks." When I investigated the contest, I was annoyed to find that it was yet another product culling contact information for a vague reward. "Bucks" are applied in the Orbit store, where you can buy lots of things, from gift cards to books to "dorm decor." I guess if you're an avid Orbit chewer, it's nice, but it seems like a lot of steps that most folks won't really take. Two ways to enter: 1. Take a picture of an illustration in the pack and text it to Orbit (and whatever happens after you do that). 2. Enter the secret password onto their website (after filling out a form with all your contact information). You then win a certain amount of bucks which can be applied to prizes, which are categorized according to type and value. Whatever happened to scratch and win? I just don't think this is worth it. If you think I'm wrong-- shoot us a comment and let us know what cool stuff you've bought with your Orbit bucks.

Overall: At least Chewable Tylenol cures headaches. This stuff gives me one.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mentos Up2U Sweet Mint and Bubble Fresh

Flavor: This flavor combination is classic. It's mint and bubblegum, the two staples, together at last in their cozy dual pack. I'm not so nuts about Mentos UP2U Mandarin Strawberry and Spearmint, and the more I think about it, the main reason it just doesn't coalesce as a complete product is because the two elements are not complimentary. There is no common denominator between mandarin strawberry and spearmint except that they're both flavors of gum. But mint and bubblegum are the old standbys, and are even combined successfully elsewhere, as in Orbit Bubblemint. The packaging naturally allows for some mixing of flavors, and I don't mind a nice cool finish to my bubblegum. On the same point, it was a smart move to call the mint "Sweet Mint," as that forgives the potential crossover of sweet bubblegum flavor to the mint flavor. There's sort of a funny aftertaste in the bubble flavor, but it's overall a fine bubble flavor, and the same goes for the mint.

Texture: The texture is great, a little firmer than some gums, but in a good way. It's consistent and lacking in many common texture flaws like squeakiness and disintegrating.

Presentation: The inside of the package quotes Irish playwright John Millington Synge, "All art is collaboration." I respect that mentos respects its product enough to call it art. It also says "A choice for every moment of the day." Unlike Mandarin Strawberry and Spearmint, I wouldn't be hard-pressed to find people who enjoy both bubblegum and minty gum. Who doesn't like a good piece of bubblegum? Who doesn't like fresh breath?

Overall: Way to go, mentos! You've successfully executed this concept. A classic combo with a modern twist.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Friday, September 9, 2011

pür gum - eXcitemint

This review is sponsored by our friends at pür gum!

Flavor: This has got some serious power! Nasal-clearing, breath-freshening, throat-cooling awesomeness in a pellet. It's one of the stronger mints I've tasted, and it's just fantastic. Go ahead - eat that garlic bread. With pur in your pocket, you've got nothing to worry about. The flavor has nice longevity, also - mellows a bit, but stays flavorful and minty.

Texture: Starts off a bit on the tough side, but softens up as you chew. It should be noted that one pellet is kind of small, it takes two to get a nicely-sized wad.

Presentation: As with other pür gums we've reviewed, this is your quintessential no-frills packaging. pür lets the gum do all the work, as it should be.

Overall: If this gum weren't aspartame free and soy free, it would still be an awesome gum. The added health benefit of no aspartame, and the awesomeness of an option for the soy-allergic are icing on the gumcake. Another win in a fab line of gum.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trident Layers Orchard Peach + Ripe Mango

Flavor: If you thought Trident Tropical Twist was outrageous, just wait until you get your hands on this. We're rounding out the summer here, folks, and just today I enjoyed one of the last delicious peaches of the season here in Jersey. It was tangy, sweet, round with that peachy flavor that takes over your whole being during the duration of your snack. It's been a while since I've have a mango, and I'm pretty sure those are out of season already, or well on their way. But boy, does this gum make me feel comfortable about the long, peach-and-mango-less winter ahead. Upon first bite, it knocks your socks off, just like that first sloppy bite of a juicy peach. Then comes the mango, as if it actually were a mango sandwich on two pieces of peach bread, aromatic and vibrant. It fades of course, but the lingering flavor is sweet and cool and enjoyable for a good long while. The summer can't last forever, but this flavor sure can.

Texture: This is a really meaty chew, much more substantial than your usual stick of Trident. It has a fantastic bite, not too soft, not too hard, a really well constructed piece of gum.

Presentation: Oh, man, just look at that mango sandwich, so simple, so decadent, so ripe and delicate. This packaging, as Shannon mentioned in her review of Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime, is simple and sophisticated.

Overall: I know what you're thinking: "If you love Trident Layers Orchard Peach + Ripe Mango so much, why don't you marry it?" Maybe I will. It's too early into our relationship to tell. But I do know that tomorrow at lunch I'm picking up a freaking mango, slicing it up and slapping it between two halves of a peach at 4:00 snack time. Only a real mango sandwich could rival this gum.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime

Flavor: A long time ago, a friend of Gum Alert sent us an email asking us about cherry flavored sugarless gums. At the time, there was really nothing to turn to. The only one I could recall, in fact, was a really disgusting mentholated Eclipse concoction that was downright offensive to the taste buds. Lack of a great cherry (like grape, as I mentioned in my review of 5 React 2 - Fruit) left a gaping hole in the sugarless gum world. Well, gum gurus and cherry lovers alike can rejoice! Trident has changed the game with this one. I haven't been the biggest fan of the Layers line as a whole, but this new one is fantastic. The lime burst you get from what I assume is the candy goo layer starts off pleasantly strong and fades as you chew, leaving the awesome cherry to shine on and on. It rivals the Bubblicious cubes in cherryness and the flavor has decent longevity. Really nice.

Texture: Slightly tough and sticky at first, the chew mellows to a pleasant malleability. It's easy to spread on the tongue to pop and crack. It does get a teensy bit too soft for my taste, but it might be just fine for you.

Presentation: Trident Layers's packaging is cute and clever, with an admirable minimalistic style. Besides the Trident logo and text, the only graphic on the package is a cherry being sliced into by a juicy lime wedge. Gets the point across without any unnecessary obnoxious color, holographic fonts, or neon bursts.

Overall: As I said, I've not been much of a fan of Trident Layers. This one has made me a believer.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stride Shaun White Whitemint

Flavor: In the interest of being fair and thorough here, I'm going to save all my Shaun White commentary for the presentation portion of this review. Let's pretend this gum didn't have a weird CGI image of a pro snowboarder on the cover, and talk about what we're really buying here-- the gum. It's super refreshing and cool, with a slight hint of sweet in the bite. I've got to say, though, that I personally can't get past this new chemical taste that all Stride gums have these days. It leaves this weird film on my tongue, and something in there reminds me of what I imagine Noxema to taste like. I will say, though, that Stride has been putting out some nasty flavors lately and this one isn't that bad.

Texture: Very good, long lasting chew. Texture has never been Stride's weakness.

Presentation: Could it be that this is the first athlete representing a gum? I don't recall whether or not Big League Chew ever actually claimed a real life baseball player as their hollywood representative, but at least that would have sort of... made sense. Big League Chew looks like chewing tobacco. Who chews chewing tobacco? Baseball players. Natural sponsorship. Stride Whitemint is... well, white. And cold, sort of like snow. But so are lots of gums, right? Why doesn't Shaun White represent Dentyne Ice? Or Mentos (the freshmaker)? I could picture him in a mentos commercial... in fact, I would love to see that dude in a mentos commercial. He's just about the coolest guy that ever set board on a half pipe; there's no denying that Shaun White deserves to make lots of money selling product, that much is clear.

But what is going on here, Stride? It's like they didn't even try to stitch some kind of connection between sponsor and product. "Oh hey, we got Shaun White. What should we call it, Shaun White Gum? No no no. I've got it. Whitemint. That's clever." So they're going simple, I'll buy that. But they're not going simple. Printed on the inside of the package is a cartoon that places Shaun White in some kind of competition with a ram. I quote, "It's on! Man versus Ram. One a competitive animal with freakish strength that loves to be scratched. The other has horns. Together in a fierce competition to see who is the best spokesman... or spokesanimal!" Um. Well. At least they didn't call this gum "Ram-mint."

Overall: A swing and a miss... I guess? I just don't know what to think here. I feel sort of like I'm missing some inside joke (which I very well might be) that Shaun White has with the rest of the world. If you know the secret, please comment (but try not to make me look old or dumb). If not, I've got to say that of all celebrities, this is one for whom Stride actually could pull off a half-baked weirdo marketing plan. Throw a bunch of ideas in the air, string some loose (very loose) connection between him and the product and that makes it ok to permit a ram to tell a "your mom" joke on your packaging. You read that correctly. You'll have to buy a pack to find out the punch line. (Spoiler alert! It's your mom.)

Rating: ooo (three gumballs)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie

Flavor: Picture a warm slice of apple pie. The first bite is a mouthful of tart, juicy apple, spiked with cinnamon. The crust is creamy and sweet, and the flavors blend together in harmonious bliss. There's just something about apple pie that's comforting, calming. A kind of warm cinnamon happiness. You guys? This gum tastes like apple pie. Like, for serious apple pie. I don't know how they replicated that familiar flavor with chemicals, artificial sweetener and gum base, but that flavor chemist deserves a serious raise. It's delicious.

Texture: A little on the tougher side when it comes to chew, but definitely well within chewability limits and nowhere near tough enough to tarnish enjoyment of the gum.

Presentation: Similar graphics as the rest of the Dessert Delights line, with autumn-y colors: burgundy, brown, orange and cream. A nice slice of apple pie graces the pack. Nothing flashy, nothing crazy... Extra lets the gum itself do all the work, as it should be.

Overall: This gum is BANGIN'. Now, this gum is not made to be an every day chewer. It's not going to freshen your breath - if anything, you'll need to pop a piece of your mint of choice afterwards to kill the cinnamon from this one. This gum is marketed as an "indulgence" to satisfy your sweet tooth in times of dire craving. And I gotta say, this really does. Go pick up some of this one - now.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mentos Squeeze Strawberry

Flavor: The flavor here is reminiscent of the pink pellets in fruity Mentos packs, which is a pleasant surprise, especially since I can eat as many as I want and not worry about a sugar rush. The flavor lasts about as long as you can chew and swallow a Mentos candy, however, and quickly stales to a dull berry flavor.

Texture: Ok, so here's the thing, the gimmick here is that in the center of this gum is "99% real fruit filling." Why, that sounds delicious! Look at that delightful strawberry just BURSTING with juicy strawberry filling! I imagined that this imagery would mirror the forthcoming burst of juice I'd enjoy while biting into the gum pellet. But wait... what the... is that POWDER grinding between my teeth? I immediately had to bite another piece in half to inspect. Had this batch gone bad? Was it sitting on the shelf too long and had dried out? Alas, no. This was an intentional powdered fruit filling, like pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, the kind you rehydrate with milk in Special K. There's not enough time to rehydrate this powder with saliva before I'm just chewing on a straight up powder, though. It just doesn't work.

Presentation: False advertising, bro. Not cool. Or at least misleading... I'm not sure many other brands will mimic this gimmick.

Overall: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I just think this is stuff is nasty, and now I have a big ol' plastic tub of it to get rid of. Looks like I'll be putting this out with the rest of the gum on my desk on work for public consumption. This one ought to spark some conversation, anyway.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

5 React2 - Fruit

Flavor: It's really, really hard, if not impossible, to find a good sugarfree grape gum. This right here? Is a good sugarfree grape gum. So why did Wrigley's muck it all up with their stupid "React" shenanigans? The original 5 React Fruit was a tropical explosion, all pineapple-mangoey. I would think someone who's tried the original recipe and is not gum-obsessed like me would gloss over the teeny "2" on the package, assuming it was your same-old, same-old. What's WRONG with you, Wrigley's? You've got a good thing, here! This is GRAPE! A GOOD grape! If you were itching to add to the 5 lineup, why not come up with a clever descripive word and call it something like "5 BLAM"? At least then, you'd get to stick a little tagline on the packaging, "A gooey, grapey grape" or something. No one who isn't a fan of Gum Alert will know that the new 5 React Fruit is grape. (Note: Katie said that after a few minutes this gets a distinct "Children's Chewable Tylenol" taste, but I never really minded Children's Chewable Tylenol, anyway.)

Texture: 5 always comes through with the good texture. This one gets a little tough on prolonged chewing, but it's a nice kind of tough, it's a very meaty chew.

Presentation: 5 packaging, blah blah blah. More of the same. It's all great, but it's all the same. The gum itself continues to be black, and I maintain: Why?

Overall: This is a solid gum. It has its flaws, but it's really the first gum, at least since the inception of this blog, that has succeeded as a sugarfree grape. If you're a grape fan, pick this one up and give it a try. The wee "2" packs a big surprize.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Orbit Fruit Punch

Flavor: Well, you missed the boat on your "Mystery Flavor" with this one, Orbit. Because... I don't know what the heck this is supposed to be, but it sure isn't any fruit punch I've ever had before. When you name a candy or a gum "fruit punch," as with all common flavors, there are certain expectations your audience is going to have about what it's supposed to taste like. Fruit punch, real fruit punch, can I guess be pretty much anything-- orange + cranberry + ruby red grapefruit maybe (oo, throw a little rum in there while you're at it...), but when we're talking about the standard fruit punch flavor, it's a very specific taste we're talking about. I hated fruit punch flavor growing up, from Ssips to special edition Starburst, but I know a whole lot of people who really love it, and they would be totally disappointed in this gum. Standard fruit punch flavor is not easy to describe, sort of wild, lots of cherry in there and sugar, maybe some citrus undertones, a round fruity finish. This gum, however, is easy to describe: It doesn't taste like anything. It's just sort of... sweet. And it's cold, it has that minty cold sensation, although it doesn't even tout some kind of mint variety on it, like their other strange combos, "Citrus Mint," "Raspberry Mint." Blech.

: What's going on, Orbit? Are you feeling all right? Because you're just not performing up to par these days, and you're a real go-getter, a real champ in the gum world. This gum is too tough, creates a foam in your teeth, and-- unheard of for Orbit-- this gum has a dull squeak to it.

Presentation: Fashion pack, smashion pack. This gum is just kind of lame.

: I'm disappointed in you, Orbit. We've had such wonderful times together, and I'm afraid I'm beginning to become skeptical of your... experimentation with new flavors. Take some time off. Relax. Then get back to work, and make your fans proud.

: oo (two gumballs)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nerds Gumballs

Flavor: I only chewed the red one and the purple one, because I don't think my teeth could handle 5 gumballs in rapid succession. Everyone knows what a gumball tastes like. Super super sugary with very little actual "flavor." The red one has a slight cherry taste, while the purple one is somewhat grapey. The nerds do very little to enhance the flavor...

Texture: However, the nerds add a cute little crunch to the first few chews. They dissolve quickly, and the remaining gum is really hard and tough, like any gumball. You can get a decent bubble, but when it pops it sticks to your lips, skin, everything. Meh.

Presentation: 5 gumballs in a plastic pouch, nothing too crazy in the way of graphics, a couple cute Nerd-guys hanging out, but otherwise, it's pretty plain.

Overall: Pretty much the only redeeming quality about this gum is the first couple of chews, but once the nerds dissolve, it's just a gumball.

Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Extra Dessert Delights Orange Crème Pop

Flavor: Summer is upon us (finally), and what says summer more than Orange Crème Pops? As a Jersey shore native, that orange cream flavor strikes a particularly nostalgic chord in me, harkening back to long summer days and dripping Kohr's Custard cones and orange sodas. I was really excited when I heard the Dessert Delights line had extended its expertise to one of the most delicious of desserts, but I have to say I'm a little let down here. Mint Chocolate Chip was such a pleasant surprise, a long-lasting, actually satisfying low-calorie treat, that I really expected Orange Crème Pop to knock my socks off. At first I was like, "Whoa!" But then I was all, "Meh." It starts out really strong, a tangy burst on the tip of your tongue and then a flood of creamy flavor, like that first bite into your ice pop before it starts to melt in the heat, but it instantly faded into a nutra-sweet-esque, dull orange flavor that actually grossed me out after a while. Not impressed.

Texture: The texture falls a little short, especially for Extra. It gets pretty tough very quickly, and the pieces seem smaller than other Extra varieties. Again, not impressed.

Presentation: The package is consistent with the other Dessert Delights, pretty simply showcasing the dessert it claims it represents. Not too much to report here, although I'm not sure I would associate actual orange slices with that delicious crème pop, it's an entity unto itself.

Overall: It's ok. I guess if you just want the flavor of the pop without the actual pop, go ahead and buy it, it's worth a try. But personally, I'm going to get my butt down to the boardwalk and get me some swirly orange and cream custard in a waffle cone, with rainbow sprinkles. Mmmm...

Rating: ooo (three gumballs)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mentos Pure Fresh Cooler Lemonade

Flavor: This one's really quite spot-on lemony. It's tart and sour, with even a little bit of rind-like bitterness thrown in. At times it might be a little TOO much for the taste buds - once or twice I've had to ditch the piece because I wasn't feeling it. Also of note is the teeniest bit of minty-menthol. Normally this doesn't work all that well in citrus flacors, but this one works great. The only thing I have to take a small issue with here is the -ade part of the equation. Lemonade is sour and tart, yes, but it's also refreshingly sweet. This gum is really too sour to be called "Lemonade." If I was bought a lemonade on the boardwalk and it tasted like this, I'd give it back for another scoop of sugar, for sure. They should have just called this gum "Cooler Lemon."

Texture: It's the predictable mentos gum texture we've grown to love. Nice initial crunch fading into an easy-to-chew wad. Prolonged chews will get slightly waxy, but not in a bad way.

Presentation: We've discussed the mentos tube and its pros and cons before. It's nice packaging, and the graphics are holographic minimalist. mentos doesn't need to slap a lemon on the label, they want to feature the product itself. I love the shiny, metallic printing - very eye-catching.

Overall: Another nice showing from mentos. Solid chew, nice true flavor. This one's recommended as a summertime treat.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mentos UP2U Mandarin Strawberry and Spearmint

Flavor: Oh my goodness, there's just so much to talk about here. A recurring theme in gum marketing is the combination of fruity and minty, as seen in such varieties as Stride Shift and Orbit Maui Melon Mint. Something about them always seems to come up short, though, and I think that's true in this case as well. UP2U gives gum chewers the "choice" between two flavors, which is novel, I guess, in the same way that it's cool that the candy Nerds always packs two flavors in one box. But for me, this presents an immediate predicament-- what if I don't like one of the flavors? Then I am forever spending twice the money for half the amount of gum, and I'm way less likely to do so when there are so many other great gums on the shelf. In my conversations on gum, I've discovered that there really aren't too many people who equally prefer fruity and minty gum, usually it's way more swayed to one side or the other. That said, if you are a fruity gum lover, this might be the gum for you, as the spearmint isn't very minty at all. It has almost a melony taste to it, which I attribute possibly to the packaging and its being subjected to fruity fumes until the time of purchase. It is minty, but I don't taste any of the standard spearmint flavors here. It's just a sweet mint, basically, reminiscent of Trident Layers Cool Mint + Melon Fresco. The Mandarin Strawberry doesn't taste anything like mandarin to me, really. I detect strawberry, maybe a little melon, definitely no mandarin, but maybe I'm just missing it. The flavor in each could last a little longer, admittedly.

Texture: For their first venture into stick gums (as opposed to the classic mentos pellet), they do a pretty good job. The initial bite leaves something to be desired, it's maybe a little rubbery and lacking that nice softness that happens at the start of stick gum, but all-in-all it's a standup, consistent chew that doesn't get hard or sticky or fall apart in your mouth. Well done.

Presentation: The first day I had this gum I avoided saying the name out loud as I couldn't really figure out what it meant (ok, ok, maybe I'm not the sharpest tack in the box). But something about the label makes me want to read the letters and numbers aloud. I still find myself calling it "That you-pee-two-you or whatever gum" even though I know now that it's a clever way of writing "Up to you." (Maybe I'm not hip enough to really grasp the text-language here.) It's a neat way to package it, opening from the side rather than the top (as seen in other gums of this shape) and closing with an over-the-top flap. I don't have any real problem with the new packaging except that I predict the two sides will separate when the pack is being beaten up in my bag, since it's only connected by one short side. The packaging is peppered with clever little phrases like "Emperor Lothar I" and "Times change and we with time," which adds to that hip young thing that's trending in gum these days (and which I don't really understand).

Overall: Both varieties of gum are delightful, and I surprisingly did enjoy both flavors, so I would consider buying this again. I think, though, that I would much rather buy two packs (or three or four or five) of all different varieties to keep in my purse in case I want a choice. I just think mentos is trying a little too hard here; they could have made waves by simply releasing their first stick-shaped gum in lots of delicious, dual-colored pieces. Instead it's their first stick-ed gum, a dual-flavor pack, a new type of packaging, a crazy clever logo... I just need a moment to digest all this newness here. I'm torn on the rating here, so I'm going to break the rules and give a half-gumball...

Rating: oooc (three-and-a-half gumballs)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Choward's Scented Gum

Flavor: An odd combination of licorice and clove, Choward's Scented Gum doesn't claim to have any flavor at all. There's no mention on the packaging of how it's supposed to taste, other than a boldfaced claim, "A delicious chewing gum." I'm taking issue with Choward's here, because if there's one thing this gum is NOT, it's "delicious."

Texture: Starts off super tough, like it's stale. I had to proceed carefully with this one for fear that I might pop my crown or lift a filling. Once it softens, the mass of the wad diminishes to a size so small, one would need at least three, if not four pieces to sustain a decent chew. Size aside, it's sticky and tough, you can't crack it or pop it.

Presentation: What presentation? It's as if Choward's Scented Gum has traveled through time to come to us in its original 1930's packaging. No graphics, no colors, nothing but the aforementioned "delicious" claim and a tagline of "Fragrance that Refreshes after Eating, Smoking or Drinking." Fragrance that refreshes? How, exactly, does fragrance refresh? Flavor, yes... a refreshing sensation, sure... but fragrance?

Overall: Choward's has been making candy and gum since the 1930s. They have stood the test of time, obviously, as they have remained virtually unchanged since their inception. I, personally, don't get it. This gum is disgusting in every way. Borderline unchewable. It's worth it to note here that this gum should not be confused with Choward's Violets - also pictured above. This gum is not Violet flavored, despite the somewhat confusing packaging similarities. Although there are some people (my mom and BFF included) that are fans of the Violets mints, I cannot recommend them, either.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Carefree Peppermint

Flavor: As Shannon mentioned in her review of Carefree Original Bubble, it's good to have an old favorite come inexplicably back on the market after years of extinction. I can't say as I have the same sort of nostalgia for the Peppermint variety, but can definitely speak to its undeniable quality. In a market of over-the-top, knock-your-socks-off flavor options, Carefree reemerges in the same role it held so long ago-- a really well done, simple gum for people who just want a refreshing, consistent chew. It's a soft-spoken peppermint flavor, subtle in its strength, but super long-lasting and not at all as overwhelming as some other peppermints out there these days.

Texture: Carefree is what it always was-- the perfect size piece with softer-than-usual bite. It does have a slight squeak, but nothing that would interrupt a conversation or anything.

Presentation: Shannon's already covered the wonder that is the Plen-T-Pack in her Original Bubble review. The design of the package itself is nothing but a starburst and a brand name, that's it-- Hershey wasted no time reinventing the wheel here. They went with the classic design to accompany the classic product.

Overall: Let this be known, to all you gum-chewers out there who lost their favorite gums long ago to a fickle market, that there is, in fact, hope. Someone, somewhere, heard our call, and brought Carefree out of our memories and back where it belongs-- in our pockets.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Carefree Original Bubble

Flavor: Some flavors in life stick with you long after a product has been discontinued or become unavailable. For example, my aunt had a glass candy jar on a shelf in her kitchen that had these raspberry hard candies in it. I have no idea what those candies were or where they came from, but the flavor of them is ingrained in my taste buds. I'll never have those candies again, but I will never forget the taste. Such was the case with Carefree Original Bubble. This was my mom's favorite gum. She always had packs of this in her purse, and I had never forgotten it. It's the perfect classic bubblegum, exactly what you expect to taste when you chew. When our mom passed away a few years ago, I went on a hunt for Carefree Original Bubble for nostalgia's sake, but it was nowhere to be found. Information on the internet was vague at best, but it hinted that the brand was discontinued. Disappointed, I resolved myself to the fact that I'd never taste Carefree again... until yesterday.

Texture: A thing of beauty. Smooth, soft and pliable - by far the best sugarfree bubble-blowing bubblegum out there. It doesn't stick to your skin when you pop a bubble, doesn't get too tough or too soft. Nothin' but love. I do seem to remember a slight bit more grittiness in the original recipe, but I kind of think that's because my mom used to buy this gum by the 18-pack and most of it was likely kind of stale by the time we chewed it.

Presentation: This is the best part of all. The gum is IN THE ORIGINAL PLEN-T-PAK. With the little red-plastic-ribbon-embedded pull tab and all. Oh, no... Carefree Original Bubble does not need the added square inches for flashy graphics, matte ribbed cardstock or bold, eye-catching fonts. 3 inches by 1 and one-quarter inch is all the space Carefree needs to proudly and simply display its logo. Like the flavor thing, I'd also resolved myself to the idea that I would never see a Plen-T-Pak ever again. How wrong I was. How very wrong, how very... happily wrong.

Overall: Traditionally, the best places to find new gum are Target and Wal-Mart. Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart, scouring the gum racks, and I came across a few new flavors of mentos, and was pretty psyched.

And then I saw it. Carefree. Original Bubble AND Peppermint. In the original Plen-T-Paks.

My elation was incalculable and uncontainable. I immediately texted Katie, "Sissy! Sissy! Carefree gum carefree gum is back zomg sissy sissy!!!!!"

As a true gum lover and connoisseur, there are very few things that can spark that kind of reaction. In fact, I can only think of one thing that could get me more excited than this. (A bunch of free gum from our "leftover basket" to the person that can tell me what that is in the comments below.) New gums are exciting, packaging changes are cool and fun... but this. This is epic.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

(Addendum: Just writing "Carefree" in the title of this blog post and into the Tags made me giddy.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bubble Tape Mystery Flavor

Flavor: Blue Raspberry. Mystery solved. Starts off crazy awesome tart, stopping just short of the "too sour" mark (though I think that it may be too sour for some, if you're sensitive to that kinda thing). It settles nicely into your standard sweet blue raspberry, and lasts surprizingly long for a sugar-based gum. Delicious.

Texture: Perfection. Not too soft, not too hard, Its pliability lends itself to fantastic bubbles that don't stick.

Presentation: It's your standard Bubble Tape hockey puck-sized plastic container. Nothing really to note here, Hubba Bubba again tries to stump the chewer by slathering question marks all over to create an aura of great mysteriousness. It's getting old.

Overall: This is a fine gum, but it'd have been just as fine if they'd have packaged it as "Blue Raspberry" and been done with it. With a mystery flavor, I feel there has to be at least SOME semblance of mystery: Is it white grape, or purple? Is it a tropical punch, or fruit punch? What berry am I tasting? But no, they just took one of the most recognizable flavors and slapped some question marks on it. Whatever. It's a good gum, definitely worth trying more than one.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hubba Bubba Max Mystery Flavor

Flavor: I usually have a tough time figuring out mystery flavors, but this one came to me pretty quickly. As with all Hubba Bubba Max varieties, this gum starts out with a punch of flavor and fades fast. At first, I was sure that the mystery flavor here was (drumroll please...) sour cherry. I was pleased to discover a cherry flavor, as there's a shortage of cherry flavors in the gum market these days, but Hubba Bubba Max already offers Sweet & Sassy Cherry, and I'd be interested if a blind taste test would shed some light on whether or not this is indeed the same re-marketed gum. Upon further chewing, however, I detected a fruit punch undertone, and wonder if that was the mystery unveiled. Perhaps we'll never know. But even so, I'm pretty sure there's a fruit punch Hubba Bubba out there, too.

Texture: The pieces are giant, great for bubble blowing and looking really cool on the playground. It's your standard Hubba Bubba base, through and through.

Presentation: Apparantly, question marks indicate mystery flavors these days. First Stride Mega Mystery, then Juicy Fruit Juicy Secret, and now Hubba Bubba Max Mystery Flavor. I suppose it makes sense, but I wish Hubba Bubba had gone out on a limb and gone with a more creative design. Being a very kid-centric company, they have the flexibility in design to really be tacky and fun, and this just sort of falls in line with all the other boring "mystery" flavors out there.

Overall: I don't know what I was expecting, but I was a little disappointed with this mystery flavor. I want to be baffled, I want to have an argument about what the flavor could be, but this just feels like a very easily answered question. If any of y'all disagree, please comment and let me know what you think of this so-called "mystery."

Rating: ooo (three gumballs)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Orbit Strawberry Remix

Flavor: Orbit tends to prefer adding mint to their non-mint varieties (see Maui Melon Mint, Strawberry Mint or Raspberry Mint for examples), and it was difficult for me, for a while, to get into Orbit because of it. I'm a purist, I suppose - I don't want mint in my Bubblegum. If I want a cooling, fresh feeling I'm gonna pop a Peppermint or a Polar Ice. However, with the introduction of last year's Perfect Peach, which was, indeed, darn near perfect, my opinion of Orbit as a general line started to come around. Strawberry Remix is straight-up artificial strawberry, and I totally dig it. A tangy, juicy burst on first chew, this gum mellows out into a delightful fruity chew that lasts and lasts. It totally reminds me of the Hubba Bubbas and Bubblicious strawberry cubes of my youth. The flavor is so good, it tastes like it could be a sugared gum.

Texture: It just doesn't get better than this. From start to finish, the gum remains modestly firm, yet fantastically flexible enough to produce big, awesome bubbles that won't stick to your nose. The wad itself is smooth and silky - none of those weird white grainy bits that have been annoying the crap out of me lately with other brands.

Presentation: As evidenced by our poll to the right, it seems that the general feedback on the Orbit fashion packs is neutral to positive. Most of you don't seem to care either way, so I'm going to stop complaining about them moving forward. If you like the fashion packs, you'll like this one, if you think they're dumb, you won't. I certainly don't feel that my fashion sense is somehow enhanced when I pull this out of my purse. I will say, though, that the outer wrapper of this gum was simply stunning. What a gorgeous rendition of a plump, juicy strawberry! Seems such a shame to waste such beautiful graphics on a cello wrap that's going to be thrown away immediately.

Overall: I can't find a single fault about this gum. I've bought this gum to review four times, and three of those times I couldn't help but chew through the entire pack before reviewing it. It's juicy and refreshing, fun to crack and pop. If you're looking for a fruit bomb to add to your summer chewing lineup, you're going to want to buy multi-packs of this one. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stride 2.0 Forever Fruit

Flavor: From what I understand, this whole Stride 2.0 thing is supposed to be an improved formula that enhances the chewer's experience in some way (they even preemptively say "you're welcome" on the inside of the package for doing you the favor). As we've witnessed in the comments on our review of Stride 2.0 Spearmint, however, Stride fans aren't finding much improvement in the formula at all-- in fact, you all are pretty angry about the change. And I don't blame you. Original Stride Forever Fruit was bursting with flavor, so much so that if you weren't totally in love with it, it could be a bit overwhelming. Forever Fruit 2.0 hardly has any flavor at all-- hints of that original mango flavor are there, but are subdued so much that it's frustrating to even try to detect a flavor at all. I don't see any improvement here. I don't remember there ever being a problem with how long the flavor lasted for any Stride flavor, so if that's the improvement, there wasn't anything that needed fixing in the first place.

Texture: The texture is softer than I remember the Original Forever Fruit (Stride 1.0?) being, and it gets mushy quickly. They certainly didn't improve any formulation here.

Presentation: The integration of design on the plastic protective wrapping has become increasingly popular in the gum market. This is an interesting and innovative move, but the wrapper is removed immediately upon purchase, so it really has no impact other than selling you the product. Orbit uses this technique nicely in their new fashion packs, as most of the labeling and need-to-know-before-purchase information is presented on the outer wrapper, and once you're through making your educated decision on what gum to buy, you remove the jargon and are left with a a clean, funky pack that you can coordinate with your outfits. I took the wrapper off this particular pack of gum, so it's not pictured here. The wrapper design featured a half-zipped zipper, unveiling the new formula right before your very eyes. If only Stride unveiled it before your very tastebuds.

Overall: I was in Quick Check with my father the other day and he bought 12 packs of Original Stride Non-Stop Mint because he's so disgusted by the new 2.0 line and dismayed that he'll have to say goodbye to his favorite flavor. It's a very risky campaign-- totally renovating an entire line of a product, especially in a market so addictive and personal as gum. You'll sell plenty of gum by enticing customers to try something new and exciting using a clever marketing campaign. But you'll sell more packs to people like my father, who swear by their flavor and brand. They've selected their flavor, and they will continue to buy it for as long as it's on the shelves. This borders on betrayal for guys like him. If you want to launch a 2.0 gum, it's wise to launch a sister line, rather than replace the old one entirely. As is the case here, many loyal chewers will find a new brand to call their own.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

5 React2 - Mint

Flavor: Although Wrigley's would like you to believe that this is some life-changing, personalized gum-chewing experience, it's just mint. Undefinable, even - there's no definite type of mint, here... nary a pepper- or spear- or even winter. Just. Mint. And it's a very, very mild mint, at that. I'm chewing it right now, and I can still taste the Cheddar Horseradish Kettle Chips I ate an hour ago. If that's your thing, you'll enjoy this, but I prefer a cooler, crisper, more refreshing blast of flavor in my mints.

Texture: Unspectacular. Way too soft - little strings of it get stuck in my dental work, and weirdly bumpy. When I took it out of my mouth to investigate the bumps, and stretched it between my fingers there were all kinds of little white flaky gobs in it. What the hell is that? It's gross. I guess the gobbies might go away with prolonged chewing, but I don't know what would define "prolonged" as I've chewed for 15 minutes or longer and they were still there, in some form.

Presentation: I always love 5 packages. Sleek and awesome-looking. A long time ago, back when the React line was first released, a fan wrote to us to tell us that the little thumb-print on the back of the pack changed colors like a mood ring. I never shared that little tidbit because I could never get it to happen. Either 5 slowly rolled out the mood packages, or my fingers were always too frigid (which is entirely possible). But check it out - the package totally changes color!

Other than the cool packaging, I just don't know about this. The gum itself remains a weird black color, which is just unsettling. Why black?

Overall: I dunno, I guess as a gum this is alright. It's certainly nothing special, despite the cool packaging. I'm still mad at 5 for this whole React thing, and now they've gone and slapped a "2" on the package and want you to think that it's something entirely different. Well, here's the thing: It's not. It's the same mediocre crap with a "2" slapped on it. Well, React, here's your "2" slapped right back at ya:

Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

America's Choice Superfresh Peppermint

Texture: Growing up in a tightly budgeted household, I've developed an appreciation for store-brand grocery products. In many cases, I even prefer the store brand to brand name products, and have come to refer to them by their strange, generic titles-- "Pick up a pack of Shoprite Chocolate Stripe Cookies while you're out?" A true connoisseur of store brands, however, understands that there are things you buy store brand (cookies), and things you don't buy store brand (frozen pizza). In this case, folks, we're in luck. The texture here is of standard pellet construction-- crunchy start, consistent finish. It doesn't stale and maintains a nice bite throughout the chew. The pieces are a little small for me after a while, but I find that's true with most pellet gums.

Flavor: It's a fine representation of the peppermint flavor we all know and love, slightly sweet at first, followed by a cooling, fresh mint flavor that lasts and lasts. It doesn't last forever, in this case, but long enough for a refreshing half hour chew. And if you want more, just take another from the whopping twenty pieces you're afforded in each pack.

Presentation: Ok, so the design leaves something to be desired. But what do you want from a store-brand? It almost is helpful that the design is sort of lo-fi and cheesy, as it signals the bargain nerve in your brain that shouts "That looks crappy, so it must be cheap!" When I was a kid, my mom would buy products that came in all-white packaging with plain black lettering that said "NO FRILLS" on the front and indicated the exact title of the product ("MICROWAVABLE MACARONI AND CHEESE;" or "CANNED BEETS") beneath it. And who cares about a design when you discover there are not one-- but TWO sleeves of pellets to enjoy inside!

Overall: America's Choice gum ought to be a true competitor against such gum giants as Dentyne Ice and Trident. Indeed, they surpass all of the others in cost alone-- I paid $1.09 for this pack, which contained twice as many pellets as a brand-name package (at a higher cost, no less). Next time you're in Pathmark or Safeway or A&P or whatever local grocery store near you carries American Choice, grab a pack or two and delight in the inexpensive sensation of Superfresh!

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Orbit Mist Crisp Mint Waterfall

Flavor: With Orbit Mist, I've come to expect a great burst of flavor-filled hydration when I chomp down, but I don't get that from the line's newest flavor, Crisp Mint Waterfall. It's one of those bland minty flavors that doesn't go anywhere or have any "definition," good for those that aren't into intense chewing experiences, but for me there's just nothing there.

Texture: This is horrible. It's almost like I got a stale pack, but this is a brand new flavor and I purchased it in a newly-opened convenience store, so it's not like it's been sitting on the shelf for a year. It's super tough from start to finish, my jaw aches just getting it to soften down, and once it's semi-malleable, it remains a danger to my dental work. There's little to no elasticity.

Presentation: Orbit Mist jumps the shark. The packaging used to stand out from the standard Orbit line, but they've gone and "fashion packed" it. I miss the refreshing ripples and metallic accents. My sympathies go out to the color blind, as I'm not sure they'd be able to see the dot-matrix Marlin that's hanging out all stealthy on the package (not that it's anything to get all excited about anyway). In fact, the outer cello wrap is far more impressive and exciting than what lives inside.

Overall: What's going on, Orbit? Your Mist line was so refreshing, pun very much intended. And now it's more of the same old, same old. Acutally, it's not even the same old, same old. It's much, much worse.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

mentos Pure Fresh Fresh Mint

This review was sponsored by our friends at mentos.

Flavor: mentos Pure Fresh Fresh Mint reminds me a lot of Extra Polar Ice in its minty simplicity, offering a cold burst of freshness without any frills. The packaging suggests otherwise, however, as it indicates that I will detect green tea extract somewhere in there. Alas, much like Trident Vitality Rejuve's failed promise of white tea, you'll be hard pressed to taste anything tea-like here. That said, I like to imagine that I'm benefiting from some of the antioxidants in the green tea extract in this gum, so it doesn't bother me too much that there's nothing very unique about the flavor.

Texture: Although it doesn't say it directly, I was led to believe by the illustration on the package that there would be some kind of liquid center in each pellet. I didn't experience that at all, so I cut a piece in half and took a look to see what was going on in there. There is indeed something different happening in the center of this gum, but if you're looking for a juicy center, look elsewhere. Otherwise, this is a good chew, consistent, a bit on the soft side, but quite enjoyable.

Presentation: The hard plastic pack does a good job of keeping the pieces contained while rattling around in a purse, which is a hard characteristic to find in packaging these days. I'm not sure if it was intentional that the name of this gum is redundant-- the other variety of Pure is called "Pure Fresh Wintergreen." This one is called "Pure Fresh Fresh Mint." Why the double fresh? Another adjective might have worked better, "Cool mint," maybe.

Overall: The Pure line is delightful, when you get past all the aforementioned nerdy packaging critiques. Recently a reader asked what gum we recommended to be the best straight up breath-freshening gum. I'm going to go ahead and add this one to the list, a simple, cool burst of fresh fresh freshness.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wrigley's 5 Cobalt

Flavor: This is where it all began. The first 5 flavor I remember ever seeing, the one that paved the way for the 5 brand. Describing itself as "a cooling peppermint" on its outer cello wrap, 5 Cobalt is exactly that: a cooling peppermint. This was before 5 went and got all "hip" on us with "electric" or shape-shifting flavors and claims of almost other-worldly sensations. It's got no frills, no extras, and that's just right with me. It's a fantastic peppermint, one of my favorites. Freshens the breath and the flavor is long-lasting.

Texture: Starts off a slight bit grainy, and a little bit too soft in that it gets stuck in between my teeth. Once you chew for about a minute or so, however, it firms up nicely and stays that way. It's easy enough to pop between your teeth, though I can't recommend it for bubble blowing.

Presentation: Like all 5s, the presentation is striking. Ribbed black matte cardstock highlighted with a bold color statement on the right. Sexy.

Overall: We've been getting requests to review this gum for months, it's only just now that I was able to get to it after the new-gum and sponsored-gum rush. In all actuality, though, this is the fourth pack of it I've bought with the intention to review it, and I have gone through the previous three very quickly. It's just a really nice gum, what a gum should be... it's unfortunate what 5 has become.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trident Vitality Rejuve

Flavor: So this gum is called "Rejuve," with the subtext, "A rejuvenating blend of luscious mint and white tea." Uh. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this is...spearmint. And I think subliminally, that's what they're telling you with the packaging-- it's the green package in the Vitality trio (alongside blue and orange). It's a really good spearmint, actually, sweet and long-lasting. The taste reminds me a lot of those gelly spearmint candies that are covered in sugar, which my mom used to buy a lot when I was a kid. I loved those things, but I haven't found the urge to buy those sugarbombs myself in my adult life, so it's nice to have this throwback to an old classic, without rotting my teeth. That said, I don't see anything "luscious" about the flavor, nor do I detect any semblance of white tea. At all.

Texture: The crunch at the beginning is really pleasant, and contributes to that memory of the crunchy sugar coating on the aforementioned spearmint leaf candies. It might be a little soft for some, but I think the consistency is just firm enough. Again, I wouldn't describe it as "luscious." The soft center varies from piece to piece, I find, some pieces pumped with a firm gel, others with almost no variation in texture at all.

Presentation: They're going for sophisticated, healthy. "Rejuve," "Awaken," and "Vigorate" sounds like the names of the Tazo Teas they sell at Starbucks, but there's nothing tea-like about any of these gums. It's just gum--good gum, don't get me wrong, but just... gum. The marketing here is just misleading.

Overall: I'd buy this again, but not for the reasons they want me to buy it. I offered it to folks in the office, and they didn't seem to care about the added benefits, whether or not it wakes you up or spikes your daily vitamin intake. For the most part, when co-workers saw it on my desk, they picked up the package and just asked one question-- "Is it any good?" Oh yeah, it's pretty good. So good, in fact, that I took it out of the free gum and candy basket on my desk.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Juicy Fruit Sweet Berry

Flavor: Awesome. This is a juicy, tangy fruit explosion. It's a sugar- and guilt-free sweet treat. Starts off really potent and settles down into a nice, smooth flavor. Highly recommended.

Texture: Standard pellet crunch, followed by about 5 - 10 minutes of near perfection. This gum is easy to chew and a pleasure to pop, but after 10 minutes or so, starts getting overly sticky and kinda mushy. If you're looking for a quick chew, this one fits the bill nicely.

Presentation: I've been unable to find this gum in any format other than the plastic 60-piece "Big-e-pak" tub. Usually I'm put-off by that, but this one has been just fine with me because I've chewed through two of them before getting around to reviewing this. I like the graphics: dew-kissed grapes and blueberries on a simple purple background. Not sure they needed to include an illustrated piece of gum itself, however.

Overall: This totally should have been the flavor of Juicy Fruit Juicy Secret, instead of the Berry Pearadise rip-off debauchle it is. It's recognizable as both grape and berry, but also vague enough that it would have kept people guessing. As it is, though, it's really a fantastic offering from Juicy Fruit, probably my favorite from the (continually expanding) line. You're almost forgiven, JF. Almost.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

vitamingum Peppermint

This review is sponsored by our friends at vitamingum!

: Brrrr. I'm usually not a fan of peppermint gum, as the cooling sensation tends to be a little too strong for my tastes-- something about those Halls menthol sinus-clearing fumes that just doesn't do it for me. vitamingum, however, has produced a much more delicate cooling sensation here. It's subtle, well-balanced, and lasts as long as the other, more pungent varieties.

Texture: The pieces are a little small, but that's a matter of preference. I popped a second in my mouth and was satisfied, and discovered that a proper serving size, according to the package, is indeed two pieces. That said, it's as balanced a texture as it is a flavor, and provides a consistency that doesn't harden or stale the longer you chew.

Presentation: There's a characterization of flavors that happens in the gum world (and the candy world in general) that doesn't necessarily correspond with the natural properties of the flavors represented. An "apple" flavored lollipop doesn't really taste like an actual apple in most cases, nor does a piece of watermelon Hubba Bubba remind you of a cool wedge of fruit on a hot summer day. Take the packaging of the flavor spearmint. When you think of it, what color comes to mind? Green, right? Well, what about Peppermint? When I think of peppermint, I think of the green leafy stuff that nice ladies grow in terracotta pots in the summertime. But what about in the gum world? I did a quick Google image search on the word "Peppermint," and here's what came up:

Meanwhile, a search for the words "Peppermint gum" produced this result:

What what what? How did that green leafy plant become this crazy blue color? The peppermint plant itself doesn't even appear on any of the packages, replaced by swirls and lightning bolts and electric shock stuff. I'm guessing the blue-ness is an interpretation of the distinct cooling sensation present in peppermint that is missing in lots of other mint varieties-- a cool, glacier-blue flavor that refreshes your whole mouth and leaves you feeling brisk and alive and skiing in the alps on your coffee table! Brrr! (York Peppermint Patty commercials... anyone?) I respect this artistic rendition of the peppermint I know and love, and hey, vitamingum even puts a leaf on the pack!

Overall: It's good for you, too! (Well, it has vitamins, anyway.) Although 10 percent of your daily vitamins in one serving of vitamingum might not sound like a lot, I can't imagine chewing the entirety of this pack in any less than a day or two. So you say, (stand back... I'm going to try math) 12 pieces to a pack, 2 pieces to a serving, 10 percent of vitamins per serving and... um... well... it's still better than nothing, right? I don't know, you figure it out.

Rating:ooooo (five gumballs)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Juicy Fruit Juicy Secret

Flavor: I'm on to you, Wrigley's. I know this gum, and your "Juicy Secret" is about to be blown wide open. This is no Juicy Fruit. It's not even from the same planet as Juicy Fruit. This is Extra Fruit Sensations Berry Pearadise. Is it any coincidence that Extra's website no longer lists that flavor? I think not. Oh, Wrigley's. Perhaps this little stunt will fool gum amateurs, but true gum enthusiasts will not be swayed by your ruse. We know what's going on. That said, I was always a lover of Berry Pearadise. The tang at first bite awakens the taste buds and fills your mouth with juicy goodness. You can taste the berry and the pear quite vividly. However, after the first few chomps, the flavor fades to generic aspartame-berry.

Texture: At first, okay, but this gum is way sticky. Don't try to blow any bubbles with this one or you'll be scraping a gooey film off your lips for the better part of an hour. The longer you chew, the less cohesive this gum becomes. I've only gone 10 minutes or so, but I think this might be one of those gums that turns into plasma balls and stimulates my gag reflex, as is common with other Extra Fruit Sensations flavors.

Presentation: Come ON, Wrigley's! There might as well be a giant "S" on the front. Not only do you blatantly rip off the gum itself, but you ripped off Stride's Mega Mystery packaging concept, too. I can just see the marketing meeting, "What should the packaging be like?" "Well, Stride's mystery flavor is rainbow colors and question marks." "So shall ours be, then!" Really, Wrigley's? Really?

Overall: If I'd had the foresight to review Berry Pearadise before it went the way of Original Bubble, this gum would have gotten a far higher review. But since it's a total rip-off in every way imaginable, I'm going to go ahead and declare massive fail on this one.

Rating: o (one gumball)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trident Vitality Vigorate

Flavor: The "burst of citrus and strawberry with vitamin C" here tastes an awful lot like the rainbow to me. The flavor at first is reminiscent of orange Skittles, in a good way, but is as fleeting as the goo inside the pellet. There is a nice cooling sensation that lasts throughout the whole chew, and the flavor is pleasant enough for a while, but it's nothing that Orbit Citrusmint hasn't done before (and better).

Texture: The first bite is a lot like a Skittle texture-wise as well, one that's been sitting out in the sun for a few minutes and is nice and soft inside. But after the crunch is gone, it's all mush. It falls apart as you chew, which to me is one of the worst qualities in a gum. Not everyone wants a firm gum, and it's refreshing to see variety in textures that appeal to different preferences. "Crumbly," however, is not a characteristic of gum at all. In fact, it's the opposite of what a gum should be.

Presentation: Shannon discussed the misleading health claims that Trident is employing with this new line of gum in her review of Trident Vitality Awaken. Sure, there are maybe some traces of vitamin C here, but you shouldn't be supplementing a good old fashioned orange with this a pack of Vigorate. I secretly expected a little burst of energy when I chewed my first piece, but it did little to quell the three o'clock work doldrums. The pack is clean and well designed, and I do actually like the aesthetic of the flap that clicks when you close it, even if it doesn't actually do anything.

Overall: If you're in the market for a mid-afternoon boost of vitamin C to get you through the day, don't bother with Vitality. Have an orange, some tomato salad, or a handful of strawberries (dipped in chocolate if you're feeling particularly droopy). If you're looking for a sweet post-meal treat to replace that bag of Skittles you've been eyeing in the vending machine since breakfast, then go ahead and stash a pack in your desk drawer. It's ok.

Rating: ooo (three gumballs)