If love is a many-splendored thing, gum is many splendors more. I love gum. I do! I love the way a fresh piece explodes on my tongue like a flavored lightning bolt striking dry vegetation, setting salivary glands ablaze. I love gum’s versatility and earnest subservience as the direct object of my affection: I can snap it, smack it, twist it, twirl it, chew it, chomp it, blow it, pop it, stretch it, savor it, and smoosh it between my cheek and premolars mid-snap, smack, twist, twirl, chew, chomp, blow, pop, stretch, and/or savor to enjoy a small, digestible meal without surrendering a perfectly chewable piece of gum—still ripe for flavor harvest. And the flavors to harvest! I love the options. The Maui Melon Mints and Tropical Freezes and Raspberry Lemon Dews that take tastebuds to Tahiti and fetid breath to the Laundromat. Every grocery checkout, bodega counter and vending machine is a swoon-worthy embarrass de choix, the stuff of consumer brain explosions and accelerated heart rates. I still get butterflies.
I’ve been chewing gum for as many years as I’ve had teeth. Before that, my gums were surely itching for their first chew! Through the years, through lost and gained teeth, first kisses, close conversations, garlic knots, cups of coffee, oral fixations and day-to-day stresses, my gum has always been there for me, dutifully waiting at the bottom of my bag for my open, searching hand. If I reach down deep enough, my gum is always there.
Mother Theresa once said, “Spread love everywhere you go.” And so I say, spread gum! Below is a list of my top ten all-time favorite gums. Happy unwrapping! And remember: Finding the right piece of gum is not about finding a piece of gum you can live with. It’s about finding the piece of gum you can’t live without.
10. Chiclets Tiny Size
I have big love for this tiny gum! It’s seriously small. It’s like pygmy pieces of gum. But, the fruit-flavored punch it packs when all those little pygmy pieces band together in chewing unison is enough to put a hole through Goliath’s head. Tip: Tear open the paper pack and dump the entire pack’s contents into your mouth at once. You won’t be sorry. The flavor will fade rather quickly—and keep chewing, keep chewing, don’t choke!—but the memory will last a lifetime.
Try looking at a gumball machine and scowling, frowning and/or assuming a generally sour status. Impossible! Gumballs, with their zippy colors, globose frames and colonial spirit, are so jolly. They’re the fuzzy puppies of the gum world, the sunflowers, the carousels, the shoeless dances on boardwalks in summertime. From first twist, a gumball machine delivers both instant gratification and real anticipation: What color will dispense? How many gumballs are in this machine? Who restocks these things? Will that fit in my mouth? Do I have another quarter? Who can I ask for another quarter?
8. Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Tape Awesome Original
If Bob Vila built a house out of gum, he’d likely have Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape in his tool belt—and on his tongue. This gum is totally DIY. Six FEET of bubble gum? Yes, please! You can draw the line at one inch, six inches or all six feet in one sitting (mmmm, guilty as charged!). Awesome Original is the best flavor, IMHCO (in my humble chewing opinion), but Snappy Strawberry, Tangy Tropical and Triple Treat are all measurably delicious.
Yipes, Stripes! DOES THIS GUM STILL EXIST AND WHERE CAN I GET IT? AH! I haven’t seen Fruit Stripe gum since Ken was two-timing Barbie with Midge, but I remember it being juicy and packed with flavor—even if that flavor faded just as fast as the temporary tattoos on the gum’s wrappers. Where have all the obsessively-active equids gone? Missing those stripes and those 17 sticks!
6. Bazooka Original Flavor
In the military, a bazooka is defined as “a tube-shaped, portable rocket launcher that fires a rocket capable of penetrating several inches of armor plate, as of a tank or other armored military vehicles.” In the gum-chewing world, Bazooka is the nonviolent stuff of legendary bubble blowing. It’s bubblegum’s answer to balloon art. I once blew a bubble that looked like a poodle! Bazooka gets added props for giving fans “Bazooka Joe & Company” comics, off-key but authentic fortunes (“Don’t waffle or you’ll get pancaked”) and mysterious white dusk on every wrapper.
I remember eating Big League Chew at eight-years-old and feeling at least 10. This gum made me feel badass. Like I was hitting home runs all the time, but also only the times I said I wanted to. Shredded like spaghetti and packaged in an aluminum foil pouch, Big League Chew Wild Pitch Watermelon tastes like juiced-up fruit and mirrors the grey stuff real big leaguers jam into their cheeks and lips, sans the mouth ulcers. It’s gum as social status—on the mound or off.
4. Bubble Yum Cotton Candy
In 1977, a rumor spread that Bubble Yum was adding spiders’ eggs to its gum to make it especially soft and chewy. How is a rumor like that even born? LSD? Are eggs from our eight-legged friends known tenderizers? Rumors considered, I’m pretty sure the only ingredient in Bubble Yum Cotton Candy is heaven. It’s scrumptious! Nectar from the gum Gods! Those big, meaty pieces melt in your mouth, boasting a better sugar surge than carne-spun cotton candy. No wonder that duck is so spirited!
3. Orbit BigPak 35 Pieces Sweet Mint
Orbit’s tagline is “For a Good Clean Feeling, No Matter What.” Nailed it! Orbit is my go-to gum post Chicken Caesar Salads and dopio espressos, before smoochfests and during most waking, gum-chewing hours. Its sugarfree flavors are smooth and refreshing, tastefully packaged, and longer lasting than any gum on the market. It’s gum, all grown up. Orbit Sweet Mint is even creamier than those savory after-dinner mints that vaporize on your tongue. And the new BigPak flaunts 35 pieces—more than double a standard pack of Orbit and enough to keep my chompers occupied for a least a couple hours.
2. Trident Tropical Twist and Watermelon Twist combined pack
The 36-piece Trident Superpack marries two of the most eligible Trident gum flavors on the market: Tropical Twist and Watermelon Twist. On most days, this succulent brick lives happily ever after in my purse, letting my mouth and mood decide—at a moment’s notice!—if it’s feeling more Tropical Twist or Watermelon Twist. It’s hard to predict these things. Either way, expect instant transport to a small hut with decorative drapes on an island floating under fruit-shaped clouds. The flavor doesn’t burst quite as long as Orbit, but the one extra piece per double-flavored pack gives the Superpack a leg up on the BigPak.
1. Bubblicious Gonzo Grape
It’s the end of the road! The end of the gum-paved road, my friends! Which brings us to the wizard of all gums, the king of all chews: Bubblicious Gonzo Grape. If you’re near your kitchen or the baking aisle of the grocery store, take an entire bag of Domino sugar and dump it down your throat. Good! Now chase it with a jug of Welch’s grape juice. Glug, glug, glug. Feel great? You’ve just rivaled the flavor explosion that happens every time you unwrap a piece of Bubblicious Gonzo Grape and pop that sucker in your mouth. This grape gum tops my list for its standout sugary goodness. First taste will turn you into Tantalus, craving more. More! Moooooooreahhhhh! Lucky for us gum chewers around the world, drug stores and candy shops guarantee this gum is never too far out of reach.