Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Altoids Cinnamon Gum

Altoids, owned and distributed by Wrigley in the US, added gum to their popular line of "curiously strong" tinned mints in 2003. Like Orbit, Altoids has British connections. The mint was created by Smith & Co. in the late 1700s, and then became part of Callard & Bowser in the 19th century. Altoids have remained an obscure, old-timey brand in the UK, but have enjoyed success as an export, especially in the US.

The Altoids gum comes in a cute tin, smaller than the full-size mint tin, but larger than the "Smalls" mini-mint tin. Unlike Altoids mints, the gum does not contain gelatin, making it suitable for people who don't eat meat. That's great. I hate meat in my candy. The gum is packed by weight, meaning each tin holds "about 20 pieces." The number you get will be a surprise.

The gum is cute. It's round and candy-coated and looks like a big red m+m. On first bite through the shell you get quite a wow. It has a hot cinnamon taste with the right amount of sugar. It's probably the hottest cinnamon gum you can buy in a regular store. Despite the candy shell, the texture is soft and chewy. It keeps the flavor for about 30 minutes. The only problem with this gum is that one piece is a little too small for an adult mouth.

When you're finished with the gum, you can make the tin into a holder for your moo cards, or any number of other neat little projects.

Review: 3.75 chomps, $$.

Orbit Cinnamint Gum

Orbit gum is not the newcomer it appears to be. Its status as a British import is emphasized by the smart TV commercials featuring British actress Vanessa Branch, but Wrigley's Orbit was actually first introduced in America in 1944. It was discontinued in 1946, and then retooled and reintroduced as Wrigley's first sugar-free gum in 1977 in both the US and UK. For reasons unknown to me, Orbit was replaced by Extra in America, but it stayed on as Wrigley's UK sugar-free gum. It was again reintroduced in the US in 2001 in its current sugar-free, premium package form. UK Orbit continues to be sold in traditional chewing gum sticks, and the US package design has only recently been released in the UK.

The Orbit premium pack design takes the form of other mid-priced US gums. The package is a flat rectangular gloss coated box with a closure tab, holding 14 pieces of short, stocky, paper-wrapped gum in two rows of seven.

The first problem with Orbit is the protective cellowrap. It doesn't have an easy-open tab, and took me an entire block before I was able to get it open. Perhaps Wrigley thinks only women with longish nails are chewing Orbit.

No, actually the first problem with Orbit is the price. At a bodega on 7th Ave in Chelsea, Orbit costs a whopping $1.75.

The gum itself was a little too hard. Perhaps this is the fault of the paper wrapping. Other gums in this package style have foil wrapping. The gum in this box of Orbit had the consistency of slightly stale Bubbleyum--no yield, no satisfying melt. It remained a bit too chewy throughout the 30 minute chew.

I chose Orbit Cinnamint because cinnamon is my preferred gum flavor, and I hadn't tried it before. As a cinnamon gum, it's not successful. The cinnamon flavor was so light that it seemed like a specter. The mint was a wintergreen type mint flavor, and was also pretty light. The gum was not overly sweet, which is probably one of the nicer things I can say about it. It was not especially refreshing, nor did it in any way make my mouth feel "clean," like the commercials insinuate.

The cinnamon flavor evaporated pretty quickly, but the mint flavor remained throughout the chew. I eventually chucked it, not because it had lost flavor, but out of ennui.

Overall, Orbit Cinnamint is pretty substandard. I give it 2 chomps.

review: 2 chomps; price: $$

Monday, March 24, 2008

Welcome to Gumshoe, the chewing gum review blog

Gum fulfills so many needs--sating hunger, freshening your breath, relieving tension. On a good day, a piece of gum will transport you to a better time and place, a long summer afternoon at the public pool, a crisp Halloween night tallying up candy with friends at the playground, the day your grandma showed you how to make a bubble. Sometimes a gum will be nothing but disappointment--a mint too sugary, a cinnamon not snappy enough.

At Gumshoe, we hope to open a dialog about chewing gum--what we all like and dislike about different gums.

On some unknown schedule, we will review a chewing gum, looking at it for taste, texture, size, packaging and price. Maybe some other things. This is a work in progress.