mentos Pure Fresh Wintergreen

This review was sponsored by our friends at mentos!

Flavor: Oh man, wow. The initial burst of flavor in this one is a nasal-clearing rush of minty awesomeness. I just ate the garlickiest lunch imaginable, popped 2 pieces of this and the funk has been completely obliterated. I’d feel comfortable having a closed-door meeting seated next to the company president right now. After the blast of freshness, it settles down into a nice, sweet classic wintergreen that lasts as long as I’ve chewed (at least 20 minutes).

Texture: The outer shell of this gum is thicker than most pellet gums, so the initial crunch is delightful and lasts an extraordinarily long time. It’s fantastic. Once the shelly bits have disintegrated, the chew that’s left is just fine. Nothing great or anything, it’s not smooth or shiny in the mouth like I prefer, but it’s certainly not too soft or too hard, it’s not gonna fall apart in your mouth, get stuck in your teeth, or cause jaw fatigue.
Presentation: I like what Mentos does with their packaging. The plastic tube, while certainly not the most healthy thing for the environment, contains the gum so that it doesn’t spill out into your purse, and it avoids the standard pop-out foil packs that pellets are usually packaged in. Not that there’s anything really wrong with the pellet packs, but they kinda seem to be a way to cheat us out of gum. A standard pellet pack contains 9 or 12 pieces, but this tube of Mentos contains 15 pieces – as many pieces as standard pack of stick gum. Maybe it’s a small thing, but for those of us that spend a calculatable percentage of our income on gum, small things add up. I guess if you’re super eco-green-sustainable-recycler, you could re-use the tubes for other things. Also, the label on this particular flavor has a reflective, shiny holographic quality to it that really makes it stand out.
Overall: I was pleasantly surprized when our friend over at Perfetti Van Melle contacted us and offered to send us some complimentary Mentos gums, because neither of our other mentos reviews really favored the brand. I was again pleasantly surprized to find out how delightful this gum really is. Maybe they’ve reformulated since I’ve last chewed it, I don’t know, but this really is a fantastic gum.
Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Orbit Piña Colada

Flavor : I have to admit, of all the alcoholic-flavored chewing gums out there, this one seems to be the most successful. The minty afterglow is a surprisingly nice substitute for the iciness of an actual piña colada, and both the pineapple and coconut flavors are present and well balanced. It’s almost sickeningly sweet, but so are piña coladas, so I have to let that one slide.

Texture : True to form, this Orbit gum is a good chew, through and through– not too soft, not to firm, long-lasting. 

Presentation : The hip, minimalist “fashion pack” strikes again. I’m not so sure it helps to market this particular flavor, however. This is a fun gum, an indulgent vacation where calories don’t count and you can just throw your cell phone into the ocean and relax. Why not go totally fun and cartoony in the packaging? How about a pineapple in a hula skirt and coconut-shell bra, holding a coconut-shell umbrella, ironically caught in the rain. Get it? Because the lyrics of the song… nevermind. 

Overall : So if you like piña coladas or getting caught in the rain, you’re in for a treat here folks (again with the song lyrics). During my research on this gum, I came across this review on The Impulsive Buy, and I must say, I too await the day that Orbit IPA or Orbit Golden Lager hits the shelves.

Rating : ooooo (five gumballs )

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)

Pop Rocks Bubble Gum

Flavor: The back of this package proclaims “Entertainment for your whole mouth!” Not only do I agree with this statement, but I propose that the entertainment provided by Pop Rocks Bubble Gum extends to many other senses, including smell, touch, and hearing. I mean come on, it’s Pop Rocks, like, THE most awesome and fun candy I’ve ever had in my life. Although it is marketed as bubblegum flavor, the package comprises two parts: one part bubblegum, one part Pop Rocks. The Pop Rocks themselves are most definitely strawberry flavor (delicious), and the gum bits are Double Bubble-eque. I might argue that the package should market its dual flavor, but the surprise was so pleasant that I think it might be best keep a secret that you discover, much like the tingling sensation you discovered the day you poured some Pop Rocks into your mouth the first time.

Texture: I was skeptical about how they were going to pull this one off. Gum-wrapped Pop Rock bits? A new formula? A momma Pop Rock and a Daddy Gumball gave birth to a perfect Pop Rock Bubble Gum baby? Alas, the mixing of the Pop Rocks with small gum bits was ingenious. The Pop Rocks dissolve at the usual rate, and you’re left with a really decent piece of gum that maintains texture and flavor for about ten minutes or so. I questioned the serving size (one package), as being maybe a little more than a person could handle, but once all the Pop Rocks dissolved the gum was a really satisfactory size.

Presentation: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The classic Pop Rocks pouch sold me this one. And the space on the package announcing “TURNS INTO GUM” in a fun all-caps font just nailed the sale for me.

Overall: OMG it’s, like, Pop Rocks Bubble Gum! What are you waiting for? Get out there and BUY a pack!

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

Stride 2.0 Spearmint

Taste: Feelin’ the love. The first chew is a nice blast of spearmint, and immediately smooths out to a sweet minty joy. It’s not too strong at all, and Stride’s claims of superior flavor longevity are really justified here. I’ve chewed this gum for longer than I could keep track of, and the flavor never waned. It really is “ridiculously long lasting.”

Texture: I honestly cannot imagine a better textured gum. I can see it being slightly too soft for some, and I had one messy incident where it was stuck all over my lips, but that was becuase I was being an idiot and smearing it all over my lips while I was stuck in traffic and horribly bored. But, for me, this gum is smooth and malleable. There is an ever-so-slight squeak, so you might not want to enjoy this gum at a board meeting or funeral.

Presentation: Stride updated its background graphics for the 2.0 experience. Though it’s nothing worthy of great praise, it’s a pretty , wavy, eye-catching “ripply” pattern.

Overall: Spearmint is the only incarnation of the 2.0 generation that I could find, but I’m looking forward to trying other flavors. (I’m also interested to see if the new formulation eliminated whatever it was that was causing Katie to get sores on her tongue.) On the inside of the pack is printed, “Stride 2.0. We’ve upgraded Stride. Yeah, you’re welcome.” Thank you, Stride. This is a winner, indeed.

Rating: ooooo (five gumballs)

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Lucky Lights Bubble Gum

Presentation: I’ve decided that the presentation of this gum takes precedence over its other properties, as it is presented to children as a fairly realistic looking pack of cigarettes. I seem to remember candy cigarettes changing their appearance to be less realistic, sort of like the orange tip on toy guns. I also was surprised to find bubble gum cigarettes, as I remember Lucky Lights as chalky sugar sticks that dissolved all too quickly in your mouth. Alas, these bubble gum cigarettes taste nothing like the familiar candy sticks of days gone by. But boy, are they more realistic looking. I wouldn’t be pleased if my niece walked in the room with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, brown filter and all (that is, of course, when she’s out of diapers). “Oh no, Aunt Katie, it’s only bubblegum!” Then we’d have to have a big stupid talk about why smoking is bad and chewing gum is good and never the twain shall meet. I digress.
Flavor: This gum is gross. It doesn’t even taste like bubblegum. It’s too sweet, and what little flavor it has fades almost immediately. I’d venture to say it tastes more like a cigarette than a piece of bubblegum.
Texture: Even worse. It hardened up before it even crumbled. The emphasis here was obviously on the presentation, and the makers of this gum felt that flavor and texture needn’t be addressed when marketing such a self-selling, sure-thing gum like this. I mean come on, kids, smoking is cool, right?
Overall: Wrong. Boo hiss, Lucky Lights. Now I’m sure this isn’t going to get kids to run out to the store and try to buy a pack of real cigs, and I’m sure it’s really fun for a kid to pretend to smoke a pack (hey, I ate plenty of candy smokes in my day), but I don’t think kids think smoking is all that cool anymore. It stinks, both literally and figuratively. I think the fact that I could only find this gum in a candy shop in Time Square (and a stale pack at that) is a testament to the fact that kids aren’t really eating these things up anymore, and that’s a good thing. Now if you ask me, I think this gum does have a chance, if only a slim one, at remaining on the market in time for my niece to actually show an interest in gum (oh, they grow up so fast…). And that’s if Nicorette steps up to the plate, throws some actual Nicotine in these things, and markets them to adults who actually would care for a smoke, but know they probably shouldn’t anymore.
Rating: oo (two gumballs)

Bubblicious Grape

Flavor: Katie and I have been known to have quite lengthy discussions on our opinions of artificial vs. natural flavors. My opinions on grape are clear: Artificial grape is the bomb , yo, and it doesn’t get any better than grape sugared bubblegum. While I think Bubblicious could have upped the tartness a bit, it’s a worthy grape, indeed. Fades quickly, but that’s to be expected in this genre.

Texture: The meaty purple cube is just perfect, never too hard or too soft, and the bubbles are phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for more.

Presentation: You know, with all the changes in the Gum Packaging world, from the near extinction of the 25-cent packs, to the Plen-T-Pack/Slim Pack evolution, you gotta kind of appreciate the consistency in sugared bubblegums like Bubblicious and Hubba Bubba. The presentation is exactly the same as when I was a kid: a 5-piece pack with the little pull-tab. It’s a familar comfort. The graphics are simple yet eye-catching, featuring bright colors and the trendy “swirls” that the iPod generation seems to be so fond of.

Overall: Some gums are just hard to review, and this is one of them. It’s just such a timeless classic. When you pick up a pack of Bubblicious Grape, you know what you’re getting. You’re not “trying it,” there are no surprizes or mysteries… it’s just a good gum.

Rating: ooooo (five 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 )

Think Gum

This review is sponsored by our friends at Think Gum!

Flavor: You can definitely tell that this is an herbal-infused gum. While not as offensive to the sense as Eclipse Breeze’s cardamom flavor, the herbs in this gum at the forefront. It’s not completely foul, but I wouldn’t call it a delicious chew. Certainly not something I’d reach for to freshen the breath, but I don’t think you’re supposed to.

Texture: It’s a pellet gum, but doesn’t really have any candy shell crunch to speak of. The chew itself is firm enough, not too annoyingly soft.

Presentation: Nothing too special here. A cute little light buld graphic and brand logo on a stark white background. Standard punch-through-the-foul pellet gum presentation.

Overall: Since this is supposed to be a “Brain-Boosting” gum, I decided to do a little experiment. The back of the pack states, “Think Gum contains Gingko Biloba, Bacopa, Guarana, Vinpocetine, Rosemary & Peppermint. Together these brain-boosting herbal ingredients are proven to enhance concentration & improve memory.” It goes on, “For best results, chew while learning or studying & again to recall information.” My personal annoyance at the overuse of ampersands aside (personal pet peeve, sorry Think), I thought that it would be interesting to use the product as directed. I wrote down the 6 above brain-boosting ingredients, and studied them for a few minutes while chewing the gum. I spit out the gum and threw out the paper, and went about my morning. Three hours later, I popped 2 more pieces of the gum and attempted to recall the ingredients. Out of the 6, I recalled 4 correctly, misspelled 1 (Bacoba, as opposed Bacopa.) and I missed 1 entirely (Vinpocetine.) So, I dunno. Maybe I should have studied longer or perhaps chewed for a longer period before studying/recalling, but I expected a better results. I guess it’s a cute novelty product, and if I were still in college, I’d be all over this. Worth a try when cramming for finals!

Rating: ooo (three gumballs)