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 )

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)

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)

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)