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 )

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)

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.