New Improved Flavor! Companies everywhere seem to think that changing their products will increase sales. From the “new” Coke to putting purple horseshoes in Lucky Charms, big businesses love to change. And doesn’t it seem that the best tasting treats get changed the fastest?
In the late spring of 2008, the 117 year old Wrigley company â€“ best known for its gum â€“ was purchased for $23 billion by Mars, Incorporated. Mars is well known for making candy (such as M&Ms, Snickers, and Starburst) but also markets rice, coffee, and pet food.
Since acquiring Wrigley, Mars has made quite a few changes. Doing away with the traditional five-sticks-per-pack narrow rectangular package, they now offer Wrigley’s gum in a Slim Packâ„¢ â€“ a larger rectangle that now contains 15 sticks. Anyone could live with the new package, but the new “improved” flavor? Well, let’s just say I wish I’d stocked up on gum prior to the Mars acquisition.
Here’s my take on the Mars-ified versions of Wrigley’s Big Four: Spearmint, Doublemint, Big Red, and Juicy Fruit.
I wrote a lengthier review of Spearmint a few weeks ago. Here are the highlights of the new flavor:
Color: Lime green.
Old Color: Off white.
Flavor: The new Spearmint is much hotter than the old and seems to contain peppermint oil now. While the flavor is much longer-lasting now, its intensity is not what you would usually expect from a spearmint-flavored gum.
Bottom Line: People who enjoy a mild, smooth spearmint will not enjoy this new version.
Color: White with green specks.
Old Color: white.
Flavor: This new Doublemint is very strange. I suppose the base flavor is rather similar to the old flavor (albeit a bit more intense), but it now contains green specks that actually crunch when you chew. I have never in my life chewed crunchy gum, and the experience is unpleasant to say the least. Crunchy candy is delicious (Butterfinger Crisp, anyone?), but crunchy gum is… weird.
Bottom line: Weird. Crunchy. Green. Specks.
Old Color: Red.
Flavor: Hot, hot, hot! Do you like Atomic Fireballs? You will LOVE the new Big Red. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t like hot peppermint, but hot cinnamon is a different story. If you could chew an Atomic Fireball, it would taste just like Big Red. (Actually, maybe you can chew them. I haven’t tried the Chewy Atomic Fireballs.)
Yes, Big Red was always cinnamon-y hot. Now it’s hotter and lasts much longer. I chewed a stick for 20 minutes with absolutely no loss of flavor. I had to spit it out because my tongue couldn’t take anymore! The hot, seared-over sensation lasted for close to a half hour after I stopped chewing. Whew!
Bottom line: If you like the heat of cinnamon oil, chew Big Red!
Color: Bright golden yellow.
Old Color: Off white/tan.
Flavor: Juicy Fruit has always been one of my favorite gums. That sweet flavor just isn’t matched by any other treat. I’m happy to say that Mars has not changed (aka ruined) Juicy Fruit’s flavor. It’s as deliciously sweet as it ever was.
However, good gum depends on texture too. What is the difference between bubble gum and chewing gum? Texture. Chewing gum is usually rather thin and chewy while bubble gum is thick, rubbery and somewhat more difficult to chew. Think back to your kiddie days of chewing Hubba Bubba. Remember gnawing away at it? If you tried to do that now, your jaw would crack!
Be prepared for a strange cross between bubble and chewing gum in the new Juicy Fruit. The rubber content has been decidedly increased, thereby increasing the gnawing factor. This, of course, makes bubble blowing easier. I, for one, do enjoy blowing bubbles even with chewing gum, so I wasn’t exactly bothered by Juicy Fruit’s new texture.
Bottom line: Still delicious.
Wrigley’s line of gum has tasted basically the same for 117 years. They’ve always had excellent sales and were the #1 gum company in the world. A 117 year track record tends to suggest that the products are well-liked by the consumer.
Though I don’t exactly mind the new texture of Juicy Fruit and am not exactly bothered by the heat increase of Big Red, I can’t say that I think either change is very beneficial for the brand. In fact, I will probably not buy Big Red again. I can take that heat in small doses, but….
While I may continue to buy Juicy Fruit, I will never again purchase either Spearmint or Doublemint. The changes made to both of those (especially Doublemint!) sent them down the tubes big time. They took two very tasty gums (fabulous breath fresheners!) and turned them into something unpleasant and unpalatable.
My overall consensus? Bad move, Mars.
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