Gum Pals Sometimes Don’t Get Along

Mentos Gum UP2U

Mentos Gum UP2U

I Paid: $1.89 for a 14-stick pack (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

Why popular low-grade candy-mint munitions maker Mentos decided a Prince-inspired name like UP2U was the right way to go in terms of branding its Gum of Tomorrow is unclear. "UP2U" sounds vaguely mid-'90-ish, which may be just about right for the concept: small sticks of gum that come two flavors to a box. Each box is a folder with two pockets, and each pocket contains seven pieces of a different flavor of gum: thus, the choice of gum flavor is literally "up" "2" "u." Fascinating.

This xylitol- and sorbitol-sweetened gum comes in a number of flavor combinations; I tried three of them, which is to say six flavors total.

When you peel away the plastic wrapper of the cardboard box, you can smell the flavor of the gum wafting powerfully out of its folder. I began with Fresh Mint/Berry Watermelon, which may have been a mistake. Fresh Mint was not a particularly noteworthy flavor: It started sweet but had a distinct cool-mint aftertaste. Switching immediately from Fresh Mint to Berry Watermelon also turned out to be a bad choice, as the transition between flavors produced a distinctly skunky taste, something that probably should have been considered before pairing those flavors together in one pack.

Other packs fared better.

Bubble Fresh is a classic bubblegum flavor with a bit of mint at the end, quite pleasant overall; its flavor pal, Sweet Mint, is complementary and has a mellow spearmint character.

More spearminty still is Spearmint (paired with Mandarin Strawberry). Spearmint's flavor can only really be described as "natural mint": It's reminiscent of chewing on actual mint leaves from the garden, plus has an appropriate amount of sweetness. The transition to Mandarin Strawberry is a little rough, but the mandarin dominates and masks the shift, while the funky strawberry note underpins it, effectively both blending with and masking the Spearmint.

All this, considered together, makes UP2U the best gum of the retro-futuristic ’90s for this moment. Which is to say it's not bad.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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