Chewing gum is a long-celebrated pastime of the geek. It’s a stress reliever, breath freshener, appetite suppressant, and a welcome substitute for less appealing habits like nail biting and desk tapping. If you sit at a desk all day, the benefits of having some physical activity to occupy yourself as you concentrate on what you’re working on are fairly clear.
The problem with gum as it exists today is that it’s fairly boring. Sure, flavors may vary widely and some include a gooey flavoring that makes those first few bites more interesting, but the product itself isn’t very useful beyond just being chewed.
So, what if gum was specifically designed for geeks? What would that gum include? Caffeine comes to mind, as does taurine and the vitamin B family. The benefit of receiving these energy-boosting elements through gum versus an ingested product like soda or pills is how fast these ingredients enter the bloodstream. Gum stays in your mouth, and the act of chewing it breaks it down and releases these energy-boosting ingredients into the mouth where they are quickly absorbed. That space below your tongue, for example, is often where doctors will recommend you keep a pill before swallowing it for maximum efficiency.
Here’s a look at some popular geek gum choices.
PWN Gum is largely promoted to the gamer demographic. It contains 55 mg of caffeine, 34.5 mg of taurine, and plenty of vitamin B3, B5, and B6. With slightly less caffeine than a cup of instant coffee, it’s sure to give you a bit of a boost.
I decided to give PWN Gum a try over the weekend during a six-hour Guild Wars 2 marathon. With one piece, I noticed a slight boost in my energy levels in general. I’m no stranger to the 2:00 p.m. slump which hits me almost every day, and I was surprised to find that my energy levels remained even after popping a second piece four hours into gameplay.
PWN Gum doesn’t give you super powers, but it is promoted as a focus-enhancing product that can help you overcome focus loss after hours of playing. It did this for me without any outside stimulants.
PWN Gum tastes pretty good. It has a sweetness to it that offsets the typically harsh mint flavor that mainstream gum products hit you with. Flavor lasted for quite a while, and I had no trouble chewing it for over an hour. It wouldn’t be my gum of choice if I were simply looking for a breath freshener at the check-out lane, but it does exactly what it advertises without the strange aftertaste often associated with vitamin products.
Jolt Energy Gum
Few companies have as long of a history with keeping college students up overnight as Jolt. Jolt Cola got me through an overnight shift doing security in my early 20s, and may well have been responsible for keeping me up and active through more than a few LAN parties.
I was extremely happy to see a pack of Jolt Energy Gum in a recent Loot Crate. Like PWN Gum, Jolt Energy Gum boasts faster delivery of energy by way of oral absorption. Two pieces of Jolt Gum deliver the equivalent amount of energy as one energy drink. This is a tall order for a couple of pieces of gum.
I decided to give it a try Sunday during another gaming session, so I could accurately compare it to PWN Gum in a similar situation. Popping two pieces of Jolt Gum, I almost immediately starting getting those familiar jitters I know all too well. The energy boost lasted for a few hours, and during that time I found myself distracted much easier than before. It might have been the result of fatigue from the game, but heavy energy stimulants tend to do that to me. It’s kind of like a caffeine-induced case of ADHD.
Jolt contains caffeine, ginseng, and guarana. These three energy-stimulating ingredients are hallmarks in almost every Jolt product. Two pieces of Jolt gum are the equivalent of one cup of instant coffee. To me, that means you’ll go through the pack twice as quickly as PWN gum, which has almost a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine in each individual piece.
The flavor isn’t terribly impressive. I noticed a strong aftertaste that wasn’t exactly Icymint (the flavor of the pack I received). It isn’t unpleasant at all, and the minty flavor does come through at the front and middle of the chewing experience. It isn’t until the flavor diminishes (5-10 minutes into chewing) that I started to notice a bit of a vitamin flavor.
Jolt Vs. PWN
Would I recommend either Jolt or PWN Gum to a friend?
Absolutely I would, especially if that friend needed to stay awake and alert for a few hours. The edge I received from two pieces of Jolt Gum was significantly more powerful than that of PWN Gum, though PWN Gum kept me a bit more alert for a longer period of time.
If I had to pick between the two for flavor and buzz, I’d personally go with PWN Gum if only because I’m a bit too old to really appreciate the 0-100 jumpstart Jolt delivered. I like an energy boost that gets the job done and remains constant without a significant drop at the end. Jolt was good, but PWN was a little better.
If you love geeky flavors, but don’t care much for extreme boosts of energy, there are some alternatives out there designed with the geek palate in mind.
One of these options is available on ThinkGeek, and it tastes just like bacon. Bacon Gumballs are little, red, and delicious. You get 22 gumballs per tin, and each one is packed with bacony goodness.
If you’re feeling brave, you could also give the Wasabi Gumballs a try.
What about you? What is your favorite energy-boosting and/or geeky gum? Is there a flavor that you like above all others?
Photo: Ryan M. Pierson