Chewing gum is one of the wonders of modern food science, so you’d expect gum to be “natural” in the same way you’d expect a Ferrari to be fuel efficient: it could happen, but it’s not by design.
With all the curious chemicals used to make gum, it’s hard to find a gum that takes a more natural approach. I found and tried one brand — Glee Gum — that was utterly underwhelming. But when I spotted packages of a new natural-ish gum, Pur, near the till at Planet Organic, I figured I’d indulge my curiosity.
The big selling point – at least for me – is that Pur doesn’t contain any aspartame, opting instead to use xylitol as a sweetener. Pur is also vegan, GMO-free, gluten-free and nut-free, which, if you have a very specific dietary requirement, may allow you to welcome gum back into your life.
But there’s trouble in chewing-gum paradise.
Pur comes in those foil-and-plastic blister packs that are popular with other brands of gum. I hate these, as they’re more wasteful than other types of gum packaging. Glee Gum, for all its taste inadequacies, comes in a fully recyclable cardboard package. The Pur packaging, while using printed words that appeal to the eco set, directly contradicts its message by using plastic and foil to wrap the gum. This hypocrisy irks me.
Eco quibbles aside, what does it taste like?
Peppermint: A strong hit of peppermint flavour right off the bat, like other gums meant to freshen breath immediately before fading away. More like Excel than, say, a stick of Trident, which takes more time to release its flavour.
Pomegranate Mint: Berry cough medicine mixed with red liquorice and “Rockets” candy, known to Americans as Smarties. I don’t find it repulsive, but it doesn’t do anything for me.
Compared to Glee Gum, the flavour lasts. With Glee, you want to spit the gum out after a few minutes of chewing because the flavour runs out and the base tastes funky. When Pur’s flavour fades, it tastes more neutral.
I just wish the packaging was different.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: I paid about $1.80 for a pack (contains 9 pieces) at Planet Organic. I also got a couple of free promotional sample packs that were shipped to my place of employ.
Value for cash money: Not bad. A bit of a premium, but not much.
Availability: Planet Organic had them (they were out of stock when I last checked), but I’d guess other health food places would carry them, too.
Nutrition?: 10 calories per 2 pieces. Not much else of note on the nutrition facts panel.
Vegetarian friendly?: Yes! Vegan friendly, even. It’s printed right on the package.
The verdict: I can see the allure for hardcore eco types. Compared to no gum at all, it’s great. But compared to regular gum, it’s not quite up to snuff.
I tried pur pomegranate gum. It was hard. And, the flavor didn’t last 5 seconds. I paid $5. for a pouch, and totally wanted a refund. Or, at least an exchange. But, the merchant at Metropolitan Citymarket 150 Myrtle Ave. (B’klyn., NY)gave neither. Very disappointing.