Connoisseur breaches gum boundaries

Seasoned reviewer takes on challenge of exploring gum


The gum-tasting review brought to you this week covers four different products selected from the local offering at Father’s Marketplace. They are miscellaneous flavors picked for their variety, entertainment value, and, in part, the reviewer’s self-indulgence.

Our reviewer, Wax, has an extensive gum-tasting history of nearly two days at the release of this article. To cleanse his palate between gums, he was provided with a smooth, fermented beverage (hoppy, with subtle notes and a clean mouthfeel; if you hold it up to the light, you’ll see an appealing amber tint) as recommended by an old friend of The Poly, Bing-Bing Long ’16. All gums were hand-selected by senior connoisseur Elisstic Resin’19, who was unfortunately unavailable for the reviewing process.

I started off with a classic Bubblicious Cotton Candy gum. The brand is aptly named, since it sacrifices serving quantity for a blasting mouthful of gum that is sure to please. When I opened the package, the individual servings were in a quaint paper wrapper with a pink design which, for those who don’t know, accounts for the other common color of cotton candy. As I held it up to light, I could see the machine-pressed marks along the flattest side, stretching on like a ladder to the pearly gates. This is probably symbolism: the gum abruptly cuts off at edge of piece, which tells us that one piece is not enough—it is necessary to binge for an endlessly heavenly stroll down your taste buds.

It had a quirky and rustic appearance with dusted, cracked edges like leavened bread. I bit in, separating the piece into three bites, as any connoisseur would do with a larger portion of gum. As I did, the true aroma of cotton candy flavoring spilled out, and when I pulled away, the fluffy innards sat waiting, providing a pleasant contrast with the staled look of the exterior. The bite was enjoyably soft yet resistant, and as I popped in the second piece, I was struck by the varying presence of granulated sugar. With the third piece, the gum filled my mouth, lending a pleasant bulging push that was nearly carnal in the way that exquisite dining often can be. After chewing for a while, it foamed slightly, and I felt the head rush that only comes from true sugar; Bubblicious is the only gum I’m reviewing that has sugar listed first in its ingredients.

All in all, this gum is a thoroughly cohesive piece of engineering, as expected from an old member of the industry. It’s a timeless design that brings me back. Verdict: 9/10

I continued with a more cheerful and fun Trident Layers Peach + Mango. This gum had a utilitarian, minimalist aesthetic with a rectangular box that folds out for easy access; sleek silver wrapping on the individual pieces of gum—the fun ones which make for good origami and thoroughly hold the gum when you spit it out. The pieces themselves were clean-cut orange rectangles with a neat sandwich look and light tidy stripes pressed onto the flat surfaces. I held one up to the light, which accentuated how sleek it really was. There was an appreciable contrast between the flat sandwich pieces and the darker center layer, which the light slightly bounced off. Since it was so small in size, I popped it in at once. On the first bite, I felt the freshness of mint and the tart fragrance of mango. As I continued, the sweet notes of peach emerged and complimented the mango. There was an intrinsic alternation between the generically sweet sandwich layers and the electric tart center layer as I chewed—a very clever design.

Trident opts to use the thinner, more elastic texture that has been popular as of recent years. The size the gum shrank down to as I chewed was thoroughly unsatisfying, and the center layer’s flavor outlasted the sandwich layers’ (for unreasonably long; over five minutes before I gave up). The fruitiness was great while it lasted, but towards the end I was in the sugar-free zone for far too long to bear. In other regards, it was quite a good performance for sugar-free gum. Verdict: 7/10

I moved on to something a little more adventurous with an ever-innovative Trident Layers Swedish Fish Berry + Lemon gum. I don’t have as much to say about this one, because the prior review is its brother from the same line. When I held it up to the light, I noticed dappled red flecks across the sandwich layers, which the yellow center juxtaposed nicely with. I popped it into mouth, and before I even bit in, I was overwhelmed by the tartness of what I presume to be the lemon flavor; for a brief moment, there was the slight fragrance/sweetness of Swedish Fish. Ana Wishnoff ’19, an amateur friend who happened to be nearby, tried some and told me that the Swedish Fish taste faded too quickly in her opinion—and I agree—and she said it was just downright not good. The combination may not have been true to Swedish Fish, but it was exquisite and unconventional. Pleasantly and strangely enough, as the middle flavor faded out (the peach + mango tartness really lasted) the Swedish Fish flavor came back and I found myself wanting to swallow for the first time in my gum-chewing career. (Scandalous, I know.)

I finished off with the final gum: the unconventional Tic Tac that my fellow connoisseur Liss picked up for me. Before any haters can say anything … it is a gum. For one, it clearly lists ‘gum arabic’ in its nutrition label; if you are not checking that, then you clearly are not a connoisseur. Additionally, with its consistency (were you not cool in elementary school? Ever heard of icebreakers? Yeah.) and fragrance, it classifies as a gum in my book. I held it up and observed its smooth, rounded pill form that glistened under the light. No, not blue—no, not red—but an orange pill that certainly holds the truth. I popped it into my mouth, and it started out like a glisten that was barely on my tongue. The sweetness and fragrance spread without the slightest need to chew. When I did, carefully, I was blown away by the novelty and bizarreness of it. To the undiscerning palate, it’s unrelenting and resistant. But as I kept at it, I gradually noticed the lightest hint of tackiness that left me delirious and wanting more. It was hinting at, but not providing, the usual chewiness of gum. In addition, the sweetness and tartness of it were more full and satisfying than any other gum; it was almost as if it was a tablet of pure sugar and flavor. If any gum could be considered the near perfect holy grail, then it would be Tic Tac. There is, however, one caveat: the whopping less-than-two calories per piece seems amazing, but once you start you can’t stop. The amazing thing about gum is that you lose calories chewing as you enjoy it, but I still feel guilty. I’ll probably have to have more of that palate-cleansing drink before I forgive myself.