Public Service Announcement: a fever is creeping among us.
Its symptoms include staying up far to late with a box of Peanut Butter Crunch, biting at the bit to watch the landing of a back tuck into a needle kick with a full turn, and a spontaneous desire to trade one’s career path for one in a highly competitive world of a sport one has never tried (badminton, bobsledding, competitive handball…the list goes on). Sometimes, these idealistic visions result in actually pursuing said sport for a concentrated period of time. Reports say that attempts by those infected with the fever have resulted in strangers breaking into cartwheels on the sidewalk and poorly executed forehands on multiple tennis courts around the globe.
Yes, Olympic fever is among us and it races through the pulse of six continents (poor Antarctica…) every two-and-a-half years, mercilessly infecting the homes of millions and accounting for 73 percent of all trampoline-related accidents.
If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of Olympic fever, please know there is a cure. It involves a ratio of 87 percent hope, 12 percent time, and 1 percent mint.
Thus, it is with great relief that I find Stride bringing a new minty flavor (sponsored by an Olympian, no less) in our nation’s time of great need.
Mint can do spectacular things. I used to bring a pack of mints in to every standardized test to chew on during breaks between the math and literature sections. It unquestionably provided me with the endurance to fill in all those tiny bubbles and, thus, I credit mint for allowing me to pursue a solid 1/3 of my academic career. Supposedly, there are over 6,700 different species of mint, and Stride is hot on the trail in mint innovation, hoping to bring out the latest and greatest in its new Shaun-White-sponsored “Mintacular” flavor they’re pulling out in a few months.
As evidence by my stash of Costco-sized packs of Stride Spearmint 2.0, I believe that Stride can make a solid piece of gum, but what of this latest sorbitol-and-glycerin-infused innovation?
It’s a pleasant little white rectangle the color of the snow just before you race down the double black diamond at 84 miles per hour.
Now, to the chew test: prefaced with the name, “Mintacular,” I braced myself for a plunge of the sinuses, one of those overwhelming 10-second shocks of peppermint-infused pain that some gums hurtle upon the unsuspecting consumers only to rip the flavor away after 3 chews. I am grateful to announce that a) Mintacular lasts longer than three chews and b) doesn’t pull a merciless chimney sweep on the sinuses. (Thank you, Stride, for sparing my nostrils.)
Quite to my surprise, Mintacular’s mint is quite subtle, holding a similar taste to those little soft dinner mints that grandma would leave out on the counter after dinner. There’s even a bit of a bright (verging on fruity…is that a hint of watermelon?) spark that blends with the mint. If “Level of Mintiness” were on the same scale they use to measure snowboarding slopes, I would say this is an intermediate blue square (or red if one is using the European slope scales). The fruitiness can somewhat mask the mint qualities, which is a bit of a bummer for the mint-lover in my heart.
However, I’m thinking if I were skiing down a mountain, defying physics in sub-zero temperatures, perhaps this more subtle mint might be a good choice as I wouldn’t need a “cold burst of minty freshness” if I’m already clomping around in -2 degrees Fahrenheit weather. For my regular gum-chewing habits, it’s a bit too gentle on mint flavor, but I appreciate it for its unobtrusive nature. It’s quite akin to the experience of looking out on untouched snow as it falls from the sky at 6:00 a.m.
And it lasts a long time without tasting like a car tire. In the spirit of the gum’s Olympic sponsor, I chewed as I watched my Olympic coverage. The taste of this little bugger lasted through a full two gymnastic routines, a commercial break, at least two legs of the running trials, and a personal celebration dance. And fear not, avid chewer, for even after the flavor dwindles away like a cowboy into the sunset, you may chew on as this little noble piece of gum stays soft for a fair amount of time.
I have a fairly high standard of mint and Mintacular proved itself to be a pleasant contender, and, while it may not replace the ol’ reliable Spearmint, if Mintacular sticks around, I’m sure I’ll be chewing it as I witness Shaun White flip something amazing in the halfpipe.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – less than 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar alcohol, and less than 0 grams of protein.)
Item: Shaun White’s Mintacular Stride Gum
Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 1 pack/14 sticks
Purchased at: A new products show
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Long chewing time. Doesn’t get rubbery. Sugar-free. Grandma’s bowl of after-dinner mints. Watching the Olympic Games. Looking out on untouched snow. Imagining yourself as an Olympic snowboarder with the wind whooshing in your face as you dart-and-weave through pines while trying not to crash into Sasquatch.
Cons: Melon flavor muddles the mint a bit too much. Antarctica has never competed in the Olympic Games. Trying to snowboard in -2 degrees Fahrenheit weather. Standardized tests.