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)

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)

5 React (Blue)

Flavor : This is my second review of the strange 5 React flavors that nobody can seem to really figure out. This is presumably the last of its kind, as there appears to only be two varieties of these almost-5 flavors. The blue pack, which has no indication of flavor other than “blue,” tastes to me an awful lot like Extra Polar Ice (although, that being Shannon’s favorite gum, she might violently disagree.) I almost picked up a pack of Polar Ice to compare, but to be fair to 5 Blue, I wanted to judge it on its own. It’s cold and minty, and leaves a rather unpleasant cold film in my mouth while chewing. It’s not a mint for those of us who favor sweetness, it’s a toothpaste-like, standard mint.

Texture : It’s got a good bite, and the cold sensation is notable. It does get a little foamy, but for the most part it’s an all right chew.

Presentation : Ok, so I don’t want to be redundant in my posts, but the gum itself is black– this is not something that can be overlooked. Some folks think this indicates a sort of classiness, reminiscent of the silver-and-black themed wedding at the Ritz or something. In my review of the orange flavor, I likened this metallic coloring to the cautionary tales about mercury poisoning that I heard as a child. I just can’t get that thought out of my head, and besides that– if anyone were to catch me spitting this hunk of molten metal into the garbage, they might expect I am part Terminator.

Overall : I don’t know, I just don’t get it. It’s ok. But it’s silver, and there’s this weird trippy marketing scheme that goes along with it. It doesn’t fit in with the 5 family (Zing, Rain, etc.), it’s not particularly good in any special way. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the black sheep of gum– and although I have a soft spot in my heart for black sheep, this one just doesn’t make any sense.
Rating : ?

5 React Orange

Flavor : This gum has caused much controversy, as far as Shannon and I are concerned. We’re thoroughly concerned with the marketing tactics that Wrigley’s is using here. The “Five” series features seven funky flavors: Zing, Cobalt, Solstice, Rain, Flare, Lush and Elixir. They all seem to hold stereotypical roles in their gum family, there’s the spearmint, the cinnamon, the mint, various fruit representatives. And now there’s these two nameless cousins, called “React.” One is orange, and one is blue, fruity and minty, respectively. But, much like “Cousin Bill” who reintroduces himself at a family wake, no one’s quite sure how these flavors fit in the family. The orange React tastes fruity, sort of like mango and that generic fruity gum flavor that shows up a lot these days. The flavor is strong at first but quickly fades and leaves you thinking about another piece. It does last a decent amount of time, though, even if it is a bit dull after a while. The flavor itself leaves a rather undesirable aftertaste of sugar substitute.

Texture : The texture is satisfactory, a nice bite that stays solid for a good amount of time. But it’s disconcerting that the React Orange is, in fact, black (as is the React Blue). When you spit it out, it’s an alarming shade of silver. My parents warned me against the dangers of playing with mercury when I was a child, and chewing silver gum will just never feel right to me.

Overall : This gum, however sufficient in flavor in texture, is just out of place. I don’t understand what “React” means, nor do I understand why it’s that startling shade of black and silver. This gum, in effect, is an enigma to me. I just don’t get it enough to give it a fair rating.

Rating : ?

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)

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.)

Trident Vitality Awaken

Taste: The box says “A peppy peppermint with a dash of ginseng,” and it’s a peppy peppermint, indeed. You get the initial blast of freshness you do with most pellet gums, especially those with a liquid center, and when the candy shell dissolves you’re left with a soft mint that’s easy on the taste buds and sinuses.

Texture: Sub-par. It starts off nice, with a tiny burst of goo in the middle, and then just goes downhill. It gets way too soft, way too fast. I suppose some might like this kind of softness, but it’s really stringy and sticky. There’ll be no cracking, snapping or popping with this gum.

Presentation: I don’t know what’s going on here. It’s your average pellet pack, placed inside a fancy-looking box. Why? It seems like overkill. It’s also kind of annoying. Traditionally, pellet packs are in cardboard sleeves, so you can push the pack out from one end so that it pops out the other. With this box, it’s only open on one end, so there’s nowhere to push the pellet pack out from. You have to either shake it, or get a little fingernail’s grip on the pack to pull it out. The whole thing seems really unnecessary, and kinda pretentious to me. The graphics themselves are nice, a metallic silver with a simple dew-speckled peppermint leaf, but I think it would have been just as effective on your standard pellet pack sleeve. (ETA: I found an article that said one of the purposes of the box was so that the pellet pack wouldn’t fall out. Has anyone ever had an issue with pellet packs falling out of their sleeves? I haven’t… and we all know how much gum I chew.)

Overall: Move over Extra Dessert Delights, Trident Vitality has caught the attention of the Gum World. Everyone’s talking about it. However, in the opinion of this Gum Girl, the “Latest and Greatest” falls short. In the interest of science, I popped a piece of “Awaken” on this fine Monday morning as I got into the car to drive to work, before drinking my coffee. I arrived at my job still as tired and dragging as I would any other Monday morning. It’s a Gum Gimmick, pure and simple. Much like Stride Shift, and 5 React, there’s really nothing special about Trident Vitality. They just like to make you think there is.

Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Big Red

Flavor : “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 )

Wrigley’s 5 Prism

Flavor: Katie knows that when it comes to watermelon, I’m much more of a fan of artificial watermelon flavor (a Jolly Rancher is the perfect example of this) than an actual watermelon. I actually don’t like actual watermelon very much at all. The new 5 flavor, Prism, is billed as “…an electric watermelon.” And I have to say, that of all the artificial watermelons I’ve tasted, this one comes the closest to natural watermelon flavor. Right there it’s got one subjective strike against it. Then it gets weird. The “electric” part of this gum is actually palatable. It’s another one of those scary-gum-chemical-reactions that you can feel going on in your mouth that makes you wonder exactly what kind of phenylketonurics they’ve got going on here. There’s a definite tingle in the chew – a quasi-carbonation, sort of a peppery tingle. If you leave the wad in the same spot in your mouth for too long it actually kind of burns. Very disconcerting, and just plain weird .

Texture: Nothing too interesting to say here. It starts off a bit too soft for my tastes but after a few minutes it firms up nicely.

Presentation: I’ve always been a fan of the 5 graphics, and this is no differently. Love the sleek black ribbed cardstock with the bright, almost tie-dyed color splashes. The matching foil is always pleasing to the eye.

Overall: As usual, I gasped with excitement when I saw a new gum in the checkout line today, and swooped it right up. I was super stoked that 5 had gone back to its roots after all the “React” shenanigans they’ve toyed us with recently. Unfortunately, this gum disappoints. Normally you can trust that 5 will be a worthy chew no matter what the flavor, but I’d probably stick to Extra Fruit Sensations Sweet Watermelon if I wanted a watermelony chew.

Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Extra Dessert Delights Strawberry Shortcake

Flavor : I have to admit right off the bat that I’m not the biggest fan of strawberry shortcake. If you put it in front of me, like any other sugary treat, of course I’ll devour it, but I’d never choose it out of a lineup. All prejudices aside, though, I’d say this gum is just all right. It’s got all the elements you’d expect out of a strawberry shortcake gum– it’s sweet and creamy and tastes of the familiar artificial strawberry flavor. I think I would have loved this gum when I was ten or eleven; it’s got that really phony, terrible sweetness that reminds me very much of my smelly Strawberry Shortcake doll. I remember most adults gagging at the smell of her, though, a reaction that I finally now understand, thanks to Extra.

Texture : As a gum, it’s a quality chew– thick, not too soft, not too firm, keeps consistency for a long time. But I think that the reason I feel this gum falls short for “strawberry shortcake” is because so much of strawberry shortcake is about the texture– the soft flesh of the strawberries, the spongy bread, the smoothness of the cream. That’s what I most enjoy about it, anyway, and I feel like it loses half its appeal here. Again, I would not have given texture a second thought back in the day, if a free pack of this stuff had come with my awesome smelly dolly.

Presentation : I wonder if it might suit Extra better to market these three “Dessert Delights” independently from one another. I mean, it’s true, they do have lots in common– they’re all desserts, they all have that unique creaminess to them, and they’re all in one way or another delightful. But I think that, unlike Extra Dessert Delights Mint Chocolate Chip, and even Key Lime Pie to an extent, I wouldn’t categorize this particular gum as a “sinful indulgence,” per se. It’s a kid’s gum, simple and sickeningly sweet. Smack a cartoon character on there and Extra will be selling these by the handful. As for the way it’s packaged now, though, I doubt it would have caught my eye as a kid, when lined up on the shelf beside such masterpieces as Hubba Bubba Max Sweet and Sassy Cherry or straight up Big League Chew.

Overall : I feel like I can’t give this an objective rating, since it tastes like it’s intended primarily for kids. But then, I feel like the packaging is not marketing to kids, so I shouldn’t have to censor my adult opinions. So in honor of my old friend Miss Shortcake, in all of her stinky glory, I’ll err on the favorable side of the gumball scale this time around.

Rating: oooo (four gumballs )