Sometimes, I regret buying something before I’ve even handed the cashier my debit card.

Sometimes, I am also wrong. [gasp!]

Happily, this is an instance where both applied.

I’ve actually been digging the Dentyne Splash line, which shocked me to no end, as I have not-so-fond memories of Tidal Wave gum. Remember that? If you were a product of the eighties you probably tried at least one piece of it or, similarly, Freshen Up. Both of these were gums that went “squirt” when you bit into them, releasing a torrent of sugary syrup into your mouth.

That crap hit me right on the tonsils and made me gag. Luckily, my brothers loved it and were happy to finish my pack.

To summarizee, seeing liquid-filled gums back in the impulse section was not a thrill for me.

But, for the edification of YOU, Dear Reader, I plonked down $1.29 of my hard-won cash (actually, I have no idea how much it was, and I likely used a card of some sort. Ease up. I was being poetic.) and bought it anyhow.

The exterior of the gum is just like Dentyne Ice (a personal favorite) – hard candy shell surrounding a medium-soft chicle. But this one hides a surprise inside.

Like ALL liquids of the future (or at least, how they seem to work in The Jetsons) – this liquid is not a liquid. It’s a gel. Much better for my sensitive tonsils.

The mint chocolate flavor features a gentle mint outside and a faintly chocolately gel. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – once you combine the two flavors/textures together, you get something akin to an Andes candy that lasts more than 3.5 seconds. . . and that you don’t have to pay $20 at the Olive Garden for (or am I the only one who gets their Andes candies that way?). Don’t get me wrong – this does not have the longevity of an Extra or a Dentyne Ice, but it lasts longer than many of the fruit gum varieties I’ve reviewed on this site, with much less of a nasty aftertaste, to boot.

It’s a surprising favorite of mine! Definitely worth a try.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

Seems like a good idea, right? Combining ice cream and candy?

Well, it’s still a good idea, but the execution fell WAYYYYY short. WIth these candies, which come in strawberry or mint chocolate chip flavors, I was hoping for something Starburst-y (or better yet, Bonkers-y! Remember those?) . . . instead, I got a Viactiv chew, less the convenient supply of calcium.

They even look like that chewable calcium supplement – rectangular and individually foil-wrapped. So I guess if you love your Viactivs, but fear bone spurs from over-calcification . . . this is the candy for you.

However, if I ever buy these again, it would probably be to play a REALLY mean prank on someone with osteoporosis.

Rating: ♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

Because nothing is trendier than Breast Cancer Awareness, Tic Tac has gotten onboard with this newest entry into the pink fray.

Not that I have anything against Susan Komen and her cause or anything, but seriously – this is the biggest cause to get behind since AIDS in the early 90s. It’s totally usurping Darfur.

Political statements aside, these are pretty darn tasty. Lightly grapefruit in flavor, with a lovely pink shade to perk up anyone’s purse. I’ve never been a huge fan of Tic Tacs, personally, because they don’t give off a ton of flavor. But anyone seeking a mild, less-sweet citrus-y treat will do well with these.

And, hey, you may just save a ta-ta. That’s good karma.

Rating: ♦♦♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

“Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!”

Watch out, Willy Wonka. As soon as Trident learns how to make tomato soup, roast beef and baked potato flavors, they will have fully cracked the magic formula. . . except that they managed to do it without requiring their customers to be juiced after finishing their chew.

Technically, this gum (according to the picture on the pack) is Blueberry and Pomegranate-flavored. And, evidently, they even market is as “Blueberry Pomegranate” in Canada (see picture at right). But we Americans either require fancier names or more accurate ones, and so they have chosen to call it “Wild Blueberry Twist” stateside.

After having KNOWN that there was a pomegranate flavor to the gum, I guess I could imagine picking some of that flavor out in the sheer acidity of the first few chews. But, for the most part, the blueberry flavor is what comes through here. And it’s a pretty good blueberry flavor, too.

The flavor lasts pretty long for a fruit gum, clocking in at almost an hour, and the Trident gum stays pretty uniform in general (unlike some gums, like Orbit, which can have a tendency to “melt in one’s mouth”, only not in a good way).

Overall, this is a gum I would actually buy again. Actually, technically, I did. I sampled the gum when a friend was carrying it, and liked it enough to buy my own pack.

You know. For “research” purposes.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

Fabulous Fruitini. Is there anything more gay than this flavor sounds? I assume they were trying to hit the Sex & The City crowd, but . . . well, maybe I’m biased. I do love the 10% Society, after all!

Having tried many of the Orbit summer flavors, you have to expect my skepticism in trying this oddly generic flavor of gum. I won’t ruin the surprise if you haven’t read the other Orbit reviews, but I will say this: Orbit’s flavor developers are having to churn out new items faster than quality control can test them!

Packaged in an appealing sunshiney-orange box, the little rectangles of gum themselves are pretty non-descript, but with a mildly pineapple-orange odor.

The flavor is reminiscent of a Mango Colada. A bit creamy, with a heady odor of coconut when chewed. The mango comes in with a VERY mild citrus-like flavor in the background, sweet and not sharp enough to be orange.

Of the Orbit flavors released this summer, this may be my favorite. The flavor lasts quite a while (at least an hour, which is not bad comparatively) without morphing too much, and the texture stays pretty chewable, too.

I’m not going to say that I would choose this over a classic mint or cinnamon option, but this is a flavor I could live with, or might even grab as a sweet, yet sugar-free, treat every now and then to “clean [my] dirty mouth”. Definitely worth a try!

Rating: ♦♦♦ (and a half) out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

Rounding the endcap of my local Walgreens the other day, I noticed something unusual. There, among the primary colors of the snack chip sacks, was a black bag. Not a usual sight.

Rather than being emblazoned with “BBQ!” or “Sour CREAM and Onion!”, this bag had blocky, alien-green lettering and no images, save the triangular Doritos logo. And the description was cryptic, to match.

Apparently, the munching public is to GUESS the flavor lurking within the bag.

I am, naturally, suspicious.

There is one of two reasons that the food industry doesn’t just TELL you what’s in the bag:

  1. It doesn’t really taste like anything found in nature, but they think people will like it . . . so let’s just have them tell US what it tastes like? Most popular entry wins!
  2. It tastes like something no one in their right mind would ever put with that food, and the only way to get us all to buy it is by making it a mystery.

This follows the latter theory.

For those of you who don’t like a spoiler, who want to read the rest of their post and then SOLVE the mystery themselves . . . that’s cool. I’ll put the actual flavor in white. Those of you “last-page-first” readers will just have to highlight that portion of the text. But, I’ll warn you brave adventurers: I have a darn good palate. I play the “what’s in this” game with nearly every meal/drink I consume. And there’s no WAY I ever would have guessed this. Thankfully, www.doritosthequest.com, another ploy to get people to try this by enticing them with a $300,000 sweepstakes, gives away the mystery flavor with a pretty darn easy puzzle, made easier with a number of hints.

The flavor is (drumroll please):
Mountain Dew. Yep. It’s as bad as you would expect.

The only other thing I will say to the brave souls who want to taste this is . . . it’s not good. The flavoring is weak enough that all you REALLY taste is corn, salt and citric acid.

Another bag going straight into the trash.

Rating: ♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

I’ve finally tried them all! To recap, the Supernova flavor of Mountain Dew is one of  three limited edition flavors released for the summer for people to vote on. The winner, apparently, will join the regular Dew line-up.

This variety, Supernova, is the only non-blue entry in the summer line up. It’s a strange violet color, with a lot of pink in it. I say strange not only because it’s fairly neon for something you’re supposed to ingest, but because I always associate Dew with teenage boys . . . are they really comfortable enough in their manhood to be seen chugging a girly purpley-pink soda?

I doubt it. So, if you’re interested in trying this soda after reading this review, I’d start hunting down a bottle now; odds are, one of the blue flavors will be the only one available after this summer.

Color aside, this flavor consists of “strawberry melon and ginseng”. It’s actually pretty good . . . but then, to be fair, I’ve always had a penchant for strawberry soda. The melon flavor is not really apparent, but a small amount of essence comes through in the afterburn. This soda has some of the classic Mountain Dew acidity, which is fun, but is still far too sweet to be truly refreshing.

And, of course, it failed “The Pepsi Test”. No surprise there – Mountain Dew is a flagship of PepsiCo.

I wouldn’t mind having this again, but it would be few and far between. Sorry to ruin the suspense for you if you haven’t read the other two posts, but my vote is solidly in Voltage’s court.

Rating: ♦♦ of ♦♦♦♦♦.

This new variety of Mountain Dew is one of three limited edition flavors released for the summer for people to vote on. The winner, apparently, will join Code Red in the regular Dew line-up.

In an earlier posting, I reviewed the Voltage flavor of the three – one of the two blue flavors. That one was flavored with raspberry-citrus  and ginseng. This is “wild berry fruit and ginseng”

This blue soda is a paler version of the Voltage flavor, literally and figuratively. In color, it’s just a smidge lighter than Voltage, and perhaps a tint more purple, but basically indistinguishable by appearance alone.

In flavor, this soda has the amorphic “berry” flavor that never truly tastes like any one, or even any mix of, berries found in nature. Kind of like Crunch Berries, only not as tasty. Voltage had a lot more depth in flavor, thanks to the kick of the citric acid. This one is one-note, overly sweet, and just not that interesting or refreshing.

If you’re truly craving a blue beverage, skip the Revolution and get your jolt from the Voltage.

Rating: ♦ of ♦♦♦♦♦.

The American chocolate industry is probably some kind of evil genius. They started out in the late 1800s/early 1900s as very egalitarian by bringing chocolate – one reserved almost exclusively for royalty – to the masses.

Of course, it wasn’t really good chocolate.

No, these are the slightly waxy flat bars that rely on mostly sugar and emulsifiers for what little flavor they deliver. So, mostly, we either reserve the plain bars for s’mores, or we stuff this chocolate full of nuts, nougat and other tasty bits to make them delicious.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a snob. I’ll pretty much take chocolate as it’s given. All I’m saying is that, by lowering our expectations for years and years, they can now raise the bar just slightly and declare it “premium” chocolate. And that’s pretty much what Hershey’s has done. 

Hershey’s new Bliss line is sold exclusively in small, bite-size pieces (not bars) – little rounded squares in pink and purple foil wrappers. Very feminine design; Hershey’s knows who their target market is. The chocolates come in three varieties: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate with a Meltaway Center.

All three are passable – creamier and more flavorful than regular drugstore chocolate – but nothing to write home about. Their main competition, Dove, has a smoother consistency and more of a cocoa taste. Plus, there are still a lot of additives in here – too much cocoa butter makes it more cloying, not smoother. Compared to the rest of the Hershey’s line, I’d still prefer a nice Symphony Bar . . . the one with toffee and almonds, of course.

Of the three, I would recommend the Milk Chocolate with a Meltaway Center. While nowhere near as decadent as a Lindor truffle (my guilty pleasure with nearly every bookstore purchase!), the slightly softer, slightly creamier center gives a satisfying chocolate coating to the mouth.

Rating: ♦♦♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.

Artificial banana flavor, thou art my nemesis.

I’ve always been the person who gives away the yellow Runts and Laffy Taffy, because the flavor of fake banana has not been mastered by science, and its facsimilie makes my back teeth ache with repulsion.

So it’s a bit nutty that I would bother trying the Strawberry Banana flavor of the Extra Fruit Sensations line, huh? These are the lengths I go to for my readers.

As I mentioned in a review of another flavor in this line, “Extra Fruit Sensations is one of the better fruit gums I’ve had recently, mostly because the flavor lasts a long time. Or at least, some of it does.”

This sentiment holds true for the strawberry banana version, as well. The immediaste flavor is that of strawberry banana yogurt – not too artificial at all! So far, so good. However, the strawberry flavors drop off within about 20 minutes, leaving you with a mild but fairly realistic banana flavor.

While this residual flavor is a pretty decent rendition of the banana flavor profile, it’s still not something I really like to chew for hours at a time. And, honestly, after about an hour, the flavor became a tiny bit chalky – like Maalox – and continuing to chew it made me seriously nauseous.

So, Wrigley scientists, thank you for making a believable banana flavor. However, please keep it our of my gum. Thank you.

Rating: ♦♦ out of ♦♦♦♦♦.