International Showcase: Wrigley’s Extra Gum, China Edition

Flavor: Sometimes it’s good to have a reputation.  When people know you have a gum blog, they feel compelled to bring you gum they come across in their travels in far-off lands.  Such was the case with this landmine of gum brought to us from my boyfriend’s colleague who happened to be travelling in China recently. As I don’t speak Chinese,  I’m assuming based on the pictures what the flavors of each are supposed to be, and based on that, here’s a breakdown of the flavors and my initial impressions of each:
Lemon: Extra, you’ve been holding back on us here in America!  This is a truly delightful flavor– a well executed lemon flavor, finally– this is something we’re sorely lacking in our country.  I’ve yet to come across a successful lemon flavored gum– in fact, I have hardly even seen any lemon flavored gum, let alone a good one.  This flavor utilizes a mild “mint” undertone to emulate the cooling sensation of a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.  It’s sweet, lemony, and refreshing.   Blueberry:  I haven’t come across many blueberry gums in my travels, either.  The blueberry is less impressive than the lemon, much more nutra-sweet than pure blueberry flavor.  It’s pretty good, though, and better than most nondescript berry flavors available in the US.  Tropical? (kiwi, pineapple, orange, papaya): This one here is kind of weird.  It actually tastes more like bubblegum than any of the fruits pictured on the label.  It’s a good bubblegum, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s definitely just bubblegum to me.  Spearmint:  Yum!  I’m not sure if it’s the same Extra spearmint we have in America, but it sure is cool and refreshing.  Slightly sweet (just slightly), and a solid mint burst.  Less of your typical “spearmint” flavoring, though, and more just good, starlight-mint-esque flavor. 
Texture: All of these gums offer a nice texture to go along with the flavor.  They’re just firm enough, meaty, and have a nice, even texture throughout the chew.  The only one that’s a little weird is the green pack, as it gets sort of foamy in your mouth, but it’s not a deal breaker. 
Presentation: Brand awareness at it’s best! You don’t need to know Chinese to know that these are Extra gums.  Simple, sleek, and to the point, the packaging breaks through language barriers.  On the back of the packaging and on the individual wrappers, it does say “Extra” in English, but I don’t know ifthat it’s even necessary.  My intuition tells me I could see a pack of Extra gum in any language and understand what I’m getting.  Well done, Wrigley’s, well done. 
Overall: Although I would like to travel the world and collect gum from nations far and wide, I so appreciate when people think of me and bring a little bit of their trip home to share.  And I even more appreciate that I can spread the word to all of you.  So, if your travels find you in China, and you’re hankering for a solid pack of gum, keep an eye out for that familiar Extra packaging, and you pretty much can’t go wrong with whatever variety you find.  
Rating: ooooo (five gumballs ) 

Rev 7 Natural Peppermint

Flavor: Aaaaah.  A truly refreshing mint sensation.  York Peppermint Patty commercials from the days of yore would do it justice– pop one piece in your mouth and you’re skiing in the Alps.  It’s the starlight mint without the gritty sweet stuff that stays on your teeth afterward.  It’s just a good, clean, cold mint.  We’re not fooling around with any gimmicky names here.  We’re talking about a gum that’s called “Natural Peppermint,” not some weird, abstract name like arctic concussion or polar bear explosion that all the other gums seem to be sporting these days. It is what it is– peppermint.
Texture: As Shannon mentioned in her review of Rev7 Spearmint, the texture in Rev7 is different than other gums, presumably because of its water soluble nature. I actually think it’s a really good texture, it’s just not something we’re used to.  A few pellets, and I was sold.  This is a good sized pellet, with a nice firm bite. Considering what I imagined when I heard it would dissolve in water, I was very pleasantly surprised.
Presentation: They went the Dentyne Ice pellet pack route, like most pellet gums these days. I kind of wish pellet gums would get a little more creative and wow me with a new kind of packaging. There’s an awful lot of wasted plastic here, and I can’t help but think there’s got to be a more efficient (and probably cooler) way to package gums like these.  Just sayin’.
Overall: My only complaint is that there aren’t more pellets in each pack. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m back to the bunny slopes.
Rating: ooooo (five gumballs )

Special Feature: The Energy Trials

As you may have noticed, there’s been a lull in posts here on Gum Alert for the last month or so.  We suck, and we’re sorry.  I’m not going to bore you with excuses or tales of jobs/kids/classes, just know that we’re aware of our suckage and are working towards fixing it.  Don’t give up on us.  We love you. 
First order of business:  Congratulations to our 5 contest winners!  They have been emailed and prizes will go out soon.  Holla for: Harrison R., Julia B., Louis M., Andrew H., and Amy Beth M.!

Onward.

There’s a new, somewhat disturbing trend in the gum world.  No longer is gum just a passive, habitual device.  Two major gum companies have recently released products that are supposed to energize/relax you as you chew.  Ditch your cocaine, dump your coffee, toss your booze… you can now get your uppers and downers in gum form!  What could be more convenient?

I try to say no to drugs, but as one of the original Gum Girls, I must soldier on and sample these… for science.

Let’s start with Mentos. 

New to their UP2U line, Mentos’ energy gum comes in the form of Chillax Mint and Energy Strike. 

Upper: The package claims, and the ingredients list does confirm, that the Energy Stike flavor contains caffeine.  However, it doesn’t list how much, and I can’t find that information anywhere.  It’s in the section of the ingredients under “Less than 2%,” if that’s worth anything.  Thing is?  Lots of stuff has caffeine.  Decaf coffee has caffeine.   Chocolate milk has caffeine.  Those things aren’t going to keep you up at night, though, and neither is this gum.  I popped a piece of it this morning before drinking my coffee to see if it would have an effect, and after 15 minutes of chewing, my cranky pre-coffee attitude won out, and I spit out the gum and sucked down the lifejuice.  The gum itself?  Nothing to write home about.  The flavor is reminiscent of the weird Stride Shift – a citrus blast followed by a strange mintiness.  Whatever the flavor is, it runs out fast and you’re left with a weird, bitter taste in your mouth.  Texture is a big fail, too – starts out alright, but quickly turns uncomfortably mushy.  I’ll rate this oo (two gumballs).

Downer: Mentos doesn’t call out any ingredient on their packaging for Chillax Mint, but the ingredients list does have chamomille extract.  Chamomille… that’s a thing, right?  Like a tea?  Again, it’s listed in the “Less than 2%” subcategory so I doubt that it’s actually doing anything to chillax the chewer.  The gum’s alright, though.  It has crunchy crystals to start the chew, and I am a fan of crunchy crystals.  It’s a decent enough mint but nothing to raise a flag over, and it’s got a similar texture problem as Energy Strike.  Too mushy.  ooo (three gumballs).

On to the 5 RPM varieties.

Upper:  One of the reasons of the aforementioned Gum Girl suckage, is that I keep saying to myself that the “next gum I’m going to review is going to be 5 RPM Fruit.” Problem is, I keep buying packs of it, and they keep disappearing before I get a chance to review it.  I’ve even bought two at a time, knowing I’d go through one, and three days later I have no more 5 RPM Fruit.

Yeah, this is one of those gums.  It’s awesome.  The flavor explodes in your mouth with juicy, fruity goodness, settles down nicely, and lasts a crazy awesome long time.  The texture is perfect for me — it’s a tad on the firm side on the outset but softens to an amazingly crackable, bubble-blowable consistency.  Very well done.

I can’t really say that it has any energizing properties.  Folks are my work are just ga-ga over it.  They all think it’s magical.  One guy says he can’t chew it because he has a heart problem or something, and it makes his problem act up.  Thing is, there’s nothing in ther ingredients list that’s out of the ordinary.  Standard gum base, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives.  There’s no caffeine, no taurine… nothing.  I don’t drink energy drinks, so I can’t say this for certain, but I’ve been told that this gum tastes just like Red Bull.  I’m going to have to say that for that reason, and for that reason alone, 5 calls this “energizing.”  I’ve gone through a pack in one afternoon and have felt no energizing effects.

Behold the carnage of this blog post. Regardless of that, and regardless of my disdain of the 5 line as a whole, I’m gonna give 5 RPM Fruit ooooo (five gumballs).  Five big, juicy, awesome gumballs.

Downer:  5 RPM Mint is touted as a “relaxing mint flavor.”  Again, nothing in the ingredients stands out as relaxing.  No chamomille as in the Mentos Chillax, no THC, no ketamine.  It’s basically just a peppermint gum.  Which I guess makes sense, in a chamomille kind of way, because peppermint tea is a relaxer.  So, the flavor’s okay, texture is alright.  It’s nice and smooth, but slightly too soft to do anything with.  It’s just a gum, nothing special, and certainly not one I’d reach for on the check-out line over another mint option. ooo (three gumballs)

Conclusion: It’s just gum, guys.