Big Red

Big RedFlavor: “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)