Mentos Squeeze Strawberry

Flavor : The flavor here is reminiscent of the pink pellets in fruity Mentos packs, which is a pleasant surprise, especially since I can eat as many as I want and not worry about a sugar rush. The flavor lasts about as long as you can chew and swallow a Mentos candy, however, and quickly stales to a dull berry flavor.

Texture : Ok, so here’s the thing, the gimmick here is that in the center of this gum is “99% real fruit filling.” Why, that sounds delicious! Look at that delightful strawberry just BURSTING with juicy strawberry filling! I imagined that this imagery would mirror the forthcoming burst of juice I’d enjoy while biting into the gum pellet. But wait… what the… is that POWDER grinding between my teeth? I immediately had to bite another piece in half to inspect. Had this batch gone bad? Was it sitting on the shelf too long and had dried out? Alas, no. This was an intentional powdered fruit filling, like pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, the kind you rehydrate with milk in Special K. There’s not enough time to rehydrate this powder with saliva before I’m just chewing on a straight up powder, though. It just doesn’t work.

Presentation : False advertising, bro. Not cool. Or at least misleading… I’m not sure many other brands will mimic this gimmick.

Overall : Correct me if I’m wrong, but I just think this is stuff is nasty, and now I have a big ol’ plastic tub of it to get rid of. Looks like I’ll be putting this out with the rest of the gum on my desk on work for public consumption. This one ought to spark some conversation, anyway.

Rating : o (one gumball)

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)

Orbit Fruit Punch

Flavor: Well, you missed the boat on your “Mystery Flavor” with this one, Orbit. Because… I don’t know what the heck this is supposed to be, but it sure isn’t any fruit punch I’ve ever had before. When you name a candy or a gum “fruit punch,” as with all common flavors, there are certain expectations your audience is going to have about what it’s supposed to taste like. Fruit punch, real fruit punch, can I guess be pretty much anything– orange + cranberry + ruby red grapefruit maybe (oo, throw a little rum in there while you’re at it…), but when we’re talking about the standard fruit punch flavor, it’s a very specific taste we’re talking about. I hated fruit punch flavor growing up, from Ssips to special edition Starburst, but I know a whole lot of people who really love it, and they would be totally disappointed in this gum. Standard fruit punch flavor is not easy to describe, sort of wild, lots of cherry in there and sugar, maybe some citrus undertones, a round fruity finish. This gum, however, is easy to describe: It doesn’t taste like anything. It’s just sort of… sweet. And it’s cold, it has that minty cold sensation, although it doesn’t even tout some kind of mint variety on it, like their other strange combos, “Citrus Mint,” “Raspberry Mint.” Blech.
Texture: What’s going on, Orbit? Are you feeling all right? Because you’re just not performing up to par these days, and you’re a real go-getter, a real champ in the gum world. This gum is too tough, creates a foam in your teeth, and– unheard of for Orbit– this gum has a dull squeak to it.

Presentation: Fashion pack, smashion pack. This gum is just kind of lame.
Overall: I’m disappointed in you, Orbit. We’ve had such wonderful times together, and I’m afraid I’m beginning to become skeptical of your… experimentation with new flavors. Take some time off. Relax. Then get back to work, and make your fans proud.
Rating: oo (two gumballs )

Nerds Gumballs

Flavor: I only chewed the red one and the purple one, because I don’t think my teeth could handle 5 gumballs in rapid succession. Everyone knows what a gumball tastes like. Super super sugary with very little actual “flavor.” The red one has a slight cherry taste, while the purple one is somewhat grapey. The nerds do very little to enhance the flavor…

Texture: However, the nerds add a cute little crunch to the first few chews. They dissolve quickly, and the remaining gum is really hard and tough, like any gumball. You can get a decent bubble, but when it pops it sticks to your lips, skin, everything. Meh.

Presentation: 5 gumballs in a plastic pouch, nothing too crazy in the way of graphics, a couple cute Nerd-guys hanging out, but otherwise, it’s pretty plain.

Overall: Pretty much the only redeeming quality about this gum is the first couple of chews, but once the nerds dissolve, it’s just a gumball.

Rating: oo (two gumballs)

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)

Carefree Peppermint

Flavor : As Shannon mentioned in her review of Carefree Original Bubble, it’s good to have an old favorite come inexplicably back on the market after years of extinction. I can’t say as I have the same sort of nostalgia for the Peppermint variety, but can definitely speak to its undeniable quality. In a market of over-the-top, knock-your-socks-off flavor options, Carefree reemerges in the same role it held so long ago– a really well done, simple gum for people who just want a refreshing, consistent chew. It’s a soft-spoken peppermint flavor, subtle in its strength, but super long-lasting and not at all as overwhelming as some other peppermints out there these days.

Texture : Carefree is what it always was– the perfect size piece with softer-than-usual bite. It does have a slight squeak, but nothing that would interrupt a conversation or anything.

Presentation : Shannon’s already covered the wonder that is the Plen-T-Pack in her Original Bubble review. The design of the package itself is nothing but a starburst and a brand name, that’s it– Hershey wasted no time reinventing the wheel here. They went with the classic design to accompany the classic product.

Overall : Let this be known, to all you gum-chewers out there who lost their favorite gums long ago to a fickle market, that there is, in fact, hope. Someone, somewhere, heard our call, and brought Carefree out of our memories and back where it belongs– in our pockets.

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.)