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Taste Test: Gum

Your average deli’s candy display has become a confusion of names, textures, colors, and claims. Here, the best in the three basics.


Photograph by Levi Brown

It seems that new kinds of chewing gum proliferate daily, with bodega cash registers now besieged by both the classic brands and tortured-sounding variations thereon (Trident, Trident White, Trident White Kiwi-Peppermint Hurricane Explosion, and so on). We decided to determine the best of each genre—mint, fruit, and bubblegum—by doing a comprehensive taste test. We scoured specialty food boutiques and health-food stores and enlisted the giant candy companies (Wrigley, Cadbury Adams) to send us their full range. Then we assembled a panel of enthusiastic, strong-jawed in-house volunteers and started a two-round testing system. In the first round, we waded through 132 kinds of gum, discarding the gross and the bland without hesitation, until twenty worthy finalists (see right) remained. For the second round, we added two prominent tasters—Wylie Dufresne and Alex Stupak, WD-50’s chef-proprietor and pastry chef, respectively. We even added between-round palate-cleansers (Saltines and Poland Spring) to keep our taste buds fresh. Then we chewed for mouthfeel and bulk, flavor intensity, and the general pleasure of the squish-squish sensation going on between our teeth, grading each gum on a scale of 1 to 10. Click here for the final results.

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