Alert Energy Gum
Whenever a big company decides they are finally jump on the caffeinated gum bandwagon everyone seems to make a big deal. Caffeinated gum is nothing new – Many big-name energy drink companies have had their hand in making a gum, from Rockstar to Amp to Go Fast. Many candy companies have also tried their hand at coming up with caffeinated concoctions, like Hershey’s Mints and caffeinated Tootsie Pops.
For some reason, however, when Wrigleys announced they were coming out with Alert Energy Gum, their first caffeinated gum, it caused quite a media stir – enough so that they pulled the gum from the market completely – fortunately not before I could get my hands on a number of packs. According to the officals at Mars, a spokesman replied that “After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation’s food supply”. basically, rather than fight for a mediocre product, it is easier from a PR perspective to just pull the product line.
The thing is, in terms of caffeine gum, it is really not the best out there. It is not even one of the good ones. It is not bad, but barely passable as an energy boost. To get the same boost as a standard energy drink such as monster or rockstar you would need to eat at least four pieces of gum in a row – which would have you chewing for a good long time.
I like that Alert tried something new with their design, slipping their little blister packs into a plastic sleeve, but it just does not work in theory. One small squeeze and the plastic tube pops their foil strand of gum packets right out, and getting them back in and keeping their shape is a tall order. It is easier to just take off the sleeve, throw it away, then stick the foil pack some place where it will not get crushed.
The foil pack is about what you would get from any caffeinated gum blister pack – a little chicklet in a little foil pouch. The shape is a little different and the design is cool and spacey, but the concept is still the same. I like the packaging, and they went a little overboard to be sure people GOT IT that it has caffeine – listing the caffeine content in three places. They even managed to put on there a big “not for kids” warning and a little litter dude. For being a small play on a standard package the design really has some merit.
Both their flavors are about the same – a little minty chicklet that is bitter on first chew but then mellows out once you chew all the caffeine out of it. The flavor lasts about 30 seconds before fading, leaing you with a slightly minty slightly sweet flavor in your mouth for the next 2 or 3 minutes. Either way, this is no Go Fast gum – with a flavor that lasts for a long while. It would be easy chewing 2 or 3 of them within 10 minutes. If you ever had a caffeinated gum – this tastes just like all the rest; sweet shell, bitter caffeine, sweet gum that burns itself out in no time. I was hoping that because this came from a gum manufacturer they might know more about what they were doing, but its about as plain as you can get.
The buzz was about what you would expect from a quick shot of 40 mg of caffeine- in other words not much. Like most gum, it absorbed both in the saliva like anything you would drink, as well as a little bit directly from your bloodstream and under your tongue. The thing to remember is this – 40mg is just a little more than you would find in a can of Diet Coke – not really a whole lot to get concerned about. They cited kids and caffeine as the reason they pulled this from the market – but how many kids drink Super Big Gulps of Mountain Dew, which is loaded with way more caffeine than you could hope to find in some boring mint flavored gum.
In terms of health, forget about it. I don’t think there is one ingredient in here which did not get made in a lab or processed to the point where it might as well have been. The ingredients list is almost all completely unpronounceable, including a bunch of different fake sugars and chemicals and preservatives to help keep it all jelled together.
I am bummed that a product got pulled from the shelves because of ignorance on the part of the consumer, but as for seeing this Alert Energy Gum go away, there really is no reason to mourn this ones sunset.