When it comes to chewing gum, there’s a ridiculous amount of variety out there. Standing there in the pharmacy, it’s nearly impossible to decide which one to choose. Whereas once upon a time the selection was limited to just a few brands and flavors, today it’s option overload, and there’s really no way to tell one from the other. Say you’re in the mood for some minty gum. You’ve got Wrigley’s, Orbit, Extra, Eclipse, Stride, Ice Breakers, Dentyne Ice, Freshen-Up, Trident, and new ones popping up all the time, like Wrigley’s 5, to choose from, and that’s before you decide between peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, and hybrids like "Sweet Mint." As we said, the amount of variety is ridiculous.
Yes, the days of choosing between only Wrigley’s and Trident are over, and for some reason brands just keep deciding to launch new varieties of chewing gum, with increasingly outrageous packaging. Long gone are the days when all chewing gum was sold in little packs of five sticks; now, they’re sold in "Split2fit" packs (Dentyne Ice); a double-layer fold-out pouch with an illustration of Roman-looking warriors battling monsters with mint-tipped spears (Stride); or a jet-black box that opens to reveal a huge QR code that takes you to their website (Wrigley’s 5). And as for advertising, forget about it. How many ways can you show someone exhaling frost?
Packaging, branding, and marketing aside, at the end of the day it’s just a piece of gum, and we’re still left with the conundrum of which one to choose. Well, that’s what we’re here for. We bought spearmint-flavored gum from the 10 most popular brands (all the ones listed above), and chewed through them all. We judged them according to longevity (we measured how long the flavor lasts for), balance of flavor between mint and sugar, "juiciness," texture, overall flavor, and degree of mintiness. Our findings were rather conclusive: some gums smack you in the face with Altoid-strength mint only to peter out after a couple minutes; others sustain a mellow mint flavor for what seems like ages. Some became tough as a rubber band after 30 seconds; others were pretty easy to chew all day long, if that’s your thing. A surprisingly small percentage had sugar; the vast majority had aspartame or another artificial sweetener. Some were normal-size sticks, some were rectangular pellets coated with a hard shell, one even had a minty goo in the middle. Oddly enough, not one had real mint in it. We tried all the spearmint-flavored ones so you don’t have to, and ranked them from our least favorite to our favorite.
Click here for the Ultimate Spearmint Chewing Gum Taste Test.