Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stride Right

Okay, so I popped forth my $.99 for 14 sticks of dynamite, I mean Stride chewing gum, on the way out of Target, along with my usual Trident peppermint, which runs $.84 for 18 sticks and is brought to you by the same folks who make Stride. (Who, by the way, came up with this new peppermint-vanilla Trident? Sounds vile.)

After lunch, I cracked open the package, and I have to say, it’s really beautiful for just chewing gum. It opens like an old-fashioned cigarette case, with the gum standing like little soldiers, and the pieces are an interesting, slightly elongated size from Trident (and I thought their new packaging was pretty good – by now you are certainly rolling your eyes. I know.) Anyway, the flavor: smells EXACTLY like Lifesaver’s Pep-O-Mint, but doesn’t taste quite like it because the intensity of flavor is dialed down quite a bit. It’s very pleasant and minty but doesn’t have the face-smacking bite that most gum has when you first chew it. I chewed it for 45 minutes and enough was enough. They proved their point. It was quite tasty but was starting to make me hungry and I’d just eaten lunch so off it went.

So why does it work?

I read about the gum in an article from the Chicago Sun-Times (they sent their reporter to the All Candy Expo – I have dreams about being sent to a all candy convention) that the key is encapsulation – in this case, sweetener and flavor encapsulation. I then turned to the handy Food Technology magazine from November 2003 and learned, while the toddler alternately threw herself face down in dirt and pet the cat, that they might have used the method Adi and Sam Shefer worked out. Basically the sweetener and flavors are held in a (hydrophobic) nanosphere -- a little sphere enclosed in a bigger sphere called a microsphere. When you pop the gum into your (presumably wet) mouth, the microspheres release the nanospheres, which degrade over time from the lipase (the enzyme) in your saliva. The released sweeteners and flavors also tend to hang around longer because of how they’re encapsulated. Clever, ain’t it? I’m pretty sure I’ve got the big picture correct, but clearly this is the realm of people more brilliant than I.


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