Monday, April 30, 2012
Here’s one of those weird purchases I made at a liquor shop called Mel & Rose that sells imported candies. There, within sight of the Hollywood sign, I bought Hollywood Chewing Gum: Chlorophylle. But it’s not a quaint local brand or even American. It’s made in France, by Cadbury (now owned by Kraft). It’s not even one of those original gum brands from the final days of the Victorian era.
The gum is simple and pleasant. It’s the classic style of stick, right down to a real foil wrapper on each piece. The flavor is spearmint and it’s quite mild but with a good enough punch to make me feel refreshed and clean without a sticky or artificial feeling. The package also boasts that it has chlorophyll in it, you know, that stuff that allows plants to photosynthesize. I remember it was popular in gum and mints in the seventies, but hadn’t seen it on a package in quite a long time.
I like that it was made with real sugar, so few stick gums are these days. So if you’re looking for something to remind you of the classic Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum, this is probably the closest you can find since Wrigley’s went to artificial sweeteners. The sugar isn’t terribly grainy, but the flavor and sweetness does go away pretty quickly, much quicker than Chiclets, but this is a more adult gum than Chiclets.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I bought these Bubble Gum Cigars while on vacation last month, mostly because it’d be so longer since I’d seen the full array of the flavors in quite a long time. They’re made by Concord Confections in Canada which is now owned by Tootsie. (They also make Dubble Bubble Gum.)
I picked out three of them, in a standard array of colors orange, green and yellow. Each has a special name on the band, which is smaller than the standard cigar band (so I can’t wear it as a ring, even on my pinky). The wrapping is simple, just a clear cellophane sleeve, all were fresh and pliable (though if you’ll notice I dropped the orange one and it broke into pieces).
Cigars have faded a bit from pop culture, but starting sometime in the early 20th century it was common to celebrate a new baby with a gifting of cigars to friends (mostly by the father to friends, coworkers and contacts). As something that children today are aware of, it’s kind of an anachronism, as I know I can go months without even catching a whiff of the scent of a cigar, much less actually seeing someone smoking one. The relationship between real cigars and bubble gum ones is so far removed, I don’t think anyone can say that they actually improve the opinion folks have of tobacco. The reverse is probably true, the shape and association of a cigar with a children’s chewing gum is more likely a hindrance to sales.
El Bubble is green and Apple Flavored. I admit that I’m kind of a gum purist. Chewing gum should be mint, cinnamon or that Juicyfruit flavor ... and bubble gum should be bubble gum flavored. None of these cigars is actually bubble gum flavored (I couldn’t find a pink one). The apple is actually rather more on the actual apple juice flavor side of things than tangy green apple. It’s sweet and light. Even after the sugar fades, it’s not offensive or even very strong at all. I don’t think anyone sitting near me would recognize the flavor.
The gum is soft and easy to chew. It’s gets very soft and grainy quickly, kind of made my mouth fill up with saliva. But a little chewing and the gum firms up into a stiff enough piece that makes decent bubbles.
Gold Dragon is yellow and Banana Flavored. Banana is a rare flavor of gum in general, so it’s nice to find. I’m sure there are some sort of Freudian/Mae West jokes about cigars and bananas, as well. The chew is soft and sugary with a mild and sweet banana flavor. Eventually as the sugar fades the flavor is much more artificial and caustic. Bubble blown at this point end up filled with noxious vapors like walking into a poorly ventilated nail spa.
Wild Tiger is orange and Orange Flavored. It’s a purely sweet affair here, sickly sweet with only a touch of orange flavoring. Don’t worry, it’ doesn’t taste like Aspergum, that would be too intense. Instead it’s more like some sort of sugar paste that was next to something orange flavored at one point.
They’re a fun little piece of gum, mostly inoffensive and colorful. They could easily just be little rods of gum or tubes ... but the idea of the little bands and their colorful names is the one bit of novelty here I enjoyed. The gum itself was passable, but I’m sure something that kids would chewy like I do ... just long enough to get the sugar out, then blow a few bubbles and move on.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
It’s hard to find a good gum these days. I was looking for sugarless gum, something to clean my mouth between meals. But I also didn’t want something filled with artificial sweeteners. I detest things like aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium (AceK) and saccharine. The other option for sugarless is Xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol which has a light, and very sweet flavor profile and a cooling effect which is ideal for gum. Xylitol is also show to be helpful in reducing plaque build up in the mouth between brushing that can lead to tooth decay.
PUR Gum is made with xylitol and is gluten free, nut free, dairy free, vegan and free of GMO ingredients. The gum comes in three flavors: Peppermint, Spearmint and Pomegranate Mint. It’s sold by Action Candy Company, based in Canada. I picked up these samples from the Frey company at the candy fair ISM Cologne earlier this year. It’s available in Canada and via online stores from Canada, though I expect it to be more widely available in the US soon.
The Peppermint pieces are nicely sized. They’re 3/4” long and 1/2” wide. They’re smooth and softly shiny. Two pieces are a good portion as suggested by the package. The mint is strong and quite cool as a result of the xylitol sweetener. As I’ll mention here quite a bit, the chew at first is a little tough, but it does mellow out.
The peppermint is clear and strong, there’s a light burn to it that continues for at least fifteen minutes into the chew. The sweetness doesn’t last long, but I’m fine with that.
Spearmint (in green) is racy. The chew is cool and fresh, but really strong. It’s Altoids strong. I find it burns a bit. The chew is soft at first but gets a bit stiffer as the coolness fades.
Even towards the later part of the chew, the minty flavor stays strong and the texture of the gum does loosen up quite a bit. The mint is green and penetrating without that grassy flavor that fresh muddled spearmint laves have.
The blister packs are nicely made. I understand the necessity for certain kinds of candy being sealed up like this, even though it takes up a lot of space. The pieces were easy to get out and the little paperboard sleeve was light and spare (and recyclable).
Pomegranate Mint in the pink accented package is different. The first note is a woodsy tangy thing that’s a bit floral and a bit minty. Then it’s very cool on the tongue, which is the xylitol. It’s all very busy. It’s not that the flavors or textures or temperatures are incompatible, it’s that they’re just not integrated. So it’s noisy, like three radio stations bleeding through on the stereo at once. But after a while with the chew it calms down and things start working a little better. The coolness fades and it’s just a mellow sweetness, the woodsy notes of the pomegranate and a light dryness comes out and then a fresh mint flavor. The texture of the gum base varies. At first it’s soft and mushy, then it seizes up and is quite tough for a while ... then towards the end (as in, maybe ten minutes, which is about the limit for a piece of gum for me) it softens up again. At the very end it still retains its minty notes but all the sweetness is gone.
Xylitol is an excellent substitute for sugar in specific applications like gum or mints and is good for folks who can’t have sugar, like diabetics. It’s not a calorie-free food though, two pieces of gum have 10 calories. There are also some white tea extracts in there, which may be added for flavor or perhaps for antioxidants. They don’t seem to make it worse but probably make it more expensive.
Some people are sensitive to the effects of xylitol. Such effects include abdominal gas and diarrhea. These effects are reported with larger portions than are found in chewing gum though, there is one gram of xylitol in each piece of gum and tests were showing effects when consuming over 65 grams per day. Also note that dogs are especially sensitive to xylitol which can cause seizures and liver damage, so please don’t let your dog have gum or mints made with any sugar alcohol - in fact, just don’t give you dog any candy at all.
I know that chewing gum with xylitol is probably really good for me as a between meal pick me up and substitute for candy snacking, and this version is already tops on my list. I didn’t care for the pomegranate at all, but the other two mint flavors are great. Now if I could just find someplace to actually buy it.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I don’t chew a lot of gum because I prefer gum made with real sugar, not artificial sweeteners. Glee Gum is not only made with real cane sugar, it’s also one of the rare gums made with authentic chicle.
Today most gum is made from synthetic gum base. But if you’re ever curious about what early gum was like, check out Glee. I recently picked up this box of one of their newest products, Wee Glee Gum.
The little pieces are bigger, more rounded than Tiny Size Chiclets. I found that four or five was a good portion for chewing.
It’s a stiffer chew. The shell is crunchy but not thick or hard to get through - it incorporates quickly. But it’s not so sugary that it becomes soupy or sticky. But as more sugar goes away, the gum does get thick and hard to chew, especially in cooler conditions (such as chewing gum outside in the spring).
The pieces come in four flavors and colors, all of which are mild and blend together pretty well.
Tangerine (orange) is a mild orange flavor. Orange has never struck me as an ideal flavor for gum, and that’s coming from a huge fan of citrus flavors. This tangerine is all sweetness and little else than a hint of fragrant citrus peel.
Banana (yellow) is sweet and a great soft flavor for gum. It doesn’t have that chemical note to it, though it still feels cooler on the tongue than the other flavors. It goes well with the other flavors, just like a banana thrown into a smoothie is usually a welcome addition.
Triple Berry (dark red) is fragrant and does have a mild berry note to it, which berries I’m not sure but I suspect they’re of the raspberry variety.
Bubble Gum (pink) is just a flavor, not an attribute. I didn’t get many of these in my assortment, but I can say that they’re pretty worthless when it came time to try a bubble. However, I liked the smooth, mild flavor. It was clean but still had that note of “not quite a natural flavor” that the combination of flavors that bubble gum is made from evokes.
The chew does get softer as the sugar goes away. The tooth-sticking issues I had with Glee Gum when I bought it and reviewed it years ago have gone away for the most part, not due to any action on Glee’s part. At the time it was my fillings that were made from dental amalgam (those dark metal fillings) which I’ve slowly had replaced with dental composites. I have less of an issue now. Still, the chicle is like a cross between the modern synthetic gum base and the old chewable wax lips.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Beechies are one of America’s older gum brands. Introduced in 1936 by Beech-Nut, maker of jarred food products like fruits, vegetables and most known for their current line of baby food. They invented the vacuum sealed gasket that makes modern canning ubiquitous.
Here in the United States the Beechies gum were like Chiclets, little candy coated rectangles of gum. They came in an array of flavors and were packaged in boxes that had a pleasant rattle to them. They’re still made, though I don’t see them often. Usually it’s the peppermint or spearmint variety in a little box with a corporate sponsors name on it, as a giveaway at a convention or trade show. Though Beechies in the US are run by Richardson Brands, in other countries they’re made by Kraft. This package of Musk Beechies is from South Africa.
Musk is a popular flavor in Australia, I’ve tried a few of their musk lollies and have a hard time getting over the idea of eating an air freshener for you car. But the gum version is something that’s a little easier for me to accept. I’ve had Choward’s Scented Gum since I was a kid and though it’s not something that I actually enjoy, I at least see that other folks might.
The little gum pellets are long rectangles, nicely rounded. They’re bright pink for no apparent reason, except to advertise the weirdness of what one might be about to consume. The candy shell is a bit thinner and less crunchy than Chiclets, but still crispy. The flavor and pinkess goes through and through.
Musk is a bit generic, it’s not earthy or animalistic like it sounds. It’s more commercial, like an incense from a store in the mall. It has honey notes, some sort of deep rose and sandalwood to it. It’s not mouthwatering, but also not as on-the-nose as something like rose or violet.
The flavor did actually last a really long time, at least twenty minutes, which is long after I lose interest in any gum I might be chewing. I’m more of a “chew the sugar out of it and spit it out” kind of person.
I don’t plan on chewing these again, though for some odd reason I bought two packages. So I’ll save the other ones for freaking people out.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I hear there’s this bunch of football (soccer) games going on halfway around the world. When I say hear, I mean, hear. Literally, there are people in my neighborhood of have been watching it live and I can hear it in my house.
Fini is a Spanish confectionery company who makes mostly sugar candies like gummis, jellies and novelty gumballs. These World Cup themed gumballs are shaped like a football and feature a flavored liquid filling. They’re just called Bubble Gum Football - Liquid Filled.
The package has just four pieces in it, but each is a good mouthful for chewing, not quite enough for adequate bubble blowing (which is probably preferable to vuvuzela blowing even if it means people will step in gum, they’ll still have their hearing).
Each piece is .75 inches in diameter. I’m accustomed to soccer balls that are black and white with a hexagonal pattern. These are white (well, pink) with a red (well, darker pink) concentric circle pattern.
The flavor, I believe, is strawberry. The gum part has a light sugar coating, but it’s only barely crunchy. The grainy sugar of the gum itself is overshadowed by the tangy berry goo in the center. It’s a nice combination and the chew is soft and pliable for quite a while. When all that fades the bubble blowing can begin, but by then I’ve lost interest and have to toss that piece in favor of a new one.
Since Wimbledon is around the corner I thought I’d include another more convincing faux sports ball gum that I got. This was a little Tennis Ball Bubble Gum. The gumball is the one on the left, the one on the right is an actual tennis ball. Even though it doesn’t have a coating of fluffy fuzz, the surface at first glance has that texture and a dead on match for the color. The Fini website shows that these are sold in tubs that look like something a Tennis Club would buy to feed the ball machine. I’m sure they’re also in bulk and seen in vending machines for a quarter.
Because the piece is so large at 1.25 inches in diameter, I couldn’t just pop it in my mouth and chew. It was more of a bite/gnaw in half and then chew item. The innards are not a goo (though that’s what their website shows), it’s a little pile of sour crystals. At first when I opened it, it was like a little confectionery geode.
The flavor is a mild lemon-lime, almost like a Mountain Dew but sometimes I thought it had a green apple note. The chew was fresh and soft, and it got even softer as I chewed it before the sugar dissipated and it became stiffer. The bubble blowing capabilities were okay, not the best I’ve ever had in a gumball, but passable. The flavor didn’t stick around very long, but my style of gum chewing is to discard it after the sugar is gone anyway.
These are adequate as gum, but probably more attractive as a novelty item. For less than a dollar I’d probably pick up the World Cup themed ones, just because they did seem like descent quality and a little special for the event. The tennis ones are just amazing to look at, and for decorative purposes alone they will get many customers.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m not a big gum chewer. But I’ve had to do a lot of thinking at work lately, and there have been studies that show that chewing gum enhances learning and reduces stress.
I found this bag of 75 pieces of Mike and Ike Fruit Flavored Bubblegum in my package of samples from the National Confectioners Association that arrived in advance of the Sweets & Snacks Expo later this month. I’ve seen these on store shelves already. They’re little bubble gum pieces in the same five flavors as Mike and Ike: strawberry, lime, lemon, orange and cherry.
The bag is an odd portion, it’s 4.25 ounces but a serving size is 2 pieces. Of course that’s just a recommendation. My mode of gum consumption is to chew it quickly until it loses its flavor, toss and start with a new piece/pieces. A portion for me is about 20 pieces for a session. (There are 5 calories per rod.)
The gum itself is made by Ford Gum under license from Just Born, makers of Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales and Marshmallow Peeps.
The rods are just about the same size as the classic Mike and Ike. The only differences are that they’re opaque and more regularly shaped. The outer coating was a light candy shell, not completely crunchy but it had a satisfying grain that created a good texture at the start of the chew and it also released a lot of flavor into the mix.
Orange was better than I expected. I was afraid it would be too tangy and reminiscent of Aspergum. It is a nice citrus flavor, tart at first but then a sweet orange flavor. It hangs onto the zest notes the longest, though it’s not as though it’s a long time at all.
Lemon started out sweet, then got a nice tangy lemonade vibe going on, then all the flavor just up and left.
Lime is all the things I love and hate about lime. It’s metallic and bitter but also zesty and tangy. The lime flavor is rather realistic but part of me is wondering why I’d want to chew lime gum.
Strawberry is fun because it’s sweet and a little like lemon with its tart bite. It seemed to be the one with the best bubble blowing, but that might have been because I chewed it the longest.
Cherry looked a lot like Strawberry much of the time, just a smidge darker. It was like a LifeSavers Wild Cherry gum rod. I liked it, even though it was medicinal, syrupy and rather bitter towards the end. It was also thin and soupy in parts and never really made good bubbles.
I liked chewing mine in pairs. Two pieces made a perfect portion for later bubble blowing. I was mostly a purist, but occasionally mixed the flavors together. Of course all citrus go together and strawberry with lemon is good.
I’d say I liked these better than actual Mike and Ike, but that’s not saying much as a I find the jelly rods a bit bland. Fruit flavored gum made with actual sugar isn’t that easy to find.
They also make a Hot Tamales version of the gum, but it’s made with artificial sweeteners, so I gave it away for a cinnamon gum fan.
Friday, March 26, 2010
In my attempt to try everything this Easter I bought some pretty stupid candies. The Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs are pretty high up there. It wasn’t so much that it’s a stupid purchase (it was only 99 cents) but that it’s a stupid product.
But let me go backwards a bit. I have a definition for candy. It’s kind of long and includes a list of criteria. One of them is that the product needs to be ready-to-eat. This means it doesn’t need assembly (though might benefit from it) and doesn’t require implements or tools, especially ones not provided.
They are 2.25 inches tall and weigh about 1.75 ounces each. Yes, they’re hollow but they’re about a third of an inch thick.
A gumball the size of a small chicken egg requires tools. I used a saw.
I was able to stand on one of them without smashing it. After chewing the slice I’d cut off the top I did manage to smash and pull apart the larger piece by stomping on it and then prying it apart. It’s tough stuff. The package says that a single serving is half an egg, but of course gives no clue about how to sever it yourself.
The candy shell is thick and crunchy and the gum inside is rough and leathery, kind of like playing with thick rawhide. It smells slightly like Juicyfruit gum. The overall flavor is sweet with a light fruity and tangy note that disappears quickly as the sugar dissolves with chewing. The flavor is inconsistent and has cinnamon and bubble gum notes from time to time. It’s an all sugar gum, which tend to lose their flavor quicker than the artificially sweetened ones. That’s fine with me, I like to chew mine up, make a few bubbles then toss it out and put in a new piece.
It does work as a bubble gum, but certainly not very well.
They’re fun to look at and would make nice decorations. For a child they’d be a frustrating mess. If you lick it the blue colored shell will run (and could stain clothing or upholstery). A parent or older child would need to help with creating manageable bites - so really I don’t recommend this for anyone under the age of 14 and of course must caution folks when using tools like saws or a serrated knife to cut this open.
Again I come back to saying that these are probably better than plastic stuff for decorating, though obviously they’re not waterproof.
They’re made in China under the house brand of CVS. They also came in pink (photo of them on store shelf here). I admit that I’m concerned about the safety of the food colorings because of the origin of the product but I have no facts to support that.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.