Advantages Freshens breath...
Disadvantages ...but mind you don't choke
I have come to the conclusion that given the raft of advertisements on television for sweets and chewing gum that there is a lot of cash in this market. Whereas chewing gum was once regarded as common and vulgar, it is now even recommended by dentists in its sugar-free format, in the fight against plaque and gum disease. I get through quite a lot of chewing gum, as I tend to leave home fairly early and don’t eat anything for an hour or two thereafter. This means that by about 9 a.m., my breath would otherwise strip paint at four feet. Intrigued by the concept of the whole thing, for the last few weeks, I have been trying out the latest player on the market – Wrigley’s X-Cite.THE CONCEPT
Those clever people at Wrigley’s have decided in their infinite wisdom that it might be a good idea to combine a mint with a chewing gum. A lot of people chew gum because they believe that it freshens their breath, but they then find that after about ten minutes, they have chewed away all the flavour and are literally just left with a tasteless piece of rubber. The X-Cite experience works on the basis that you have a little pearl of chewing gum, encased in a crunchy, mint case, which gives you that initial boost of breath-freshening taste. I can see the idea in theory, although my view was always that people either liked mints, or chewing gum and that very few people would want a combination of the two. The sweets are marketed in two flavours – both variations of mint. I have stuck with the blue ones, which are called Rush.PACKAGING AND MARKETING
The little sweets are most definitely targeted at the youth market. The advertising campaign features lots of guys and girls on surfboards, with copious close-up shots of the girls wet butts in their little shorts. The whole idea works on X-Cite being exactly what the name infers – strong, tasty little sweets that wake up your taste buds. In keeping with the whole innovative concept of the product, the sweets are also packaged in a thoroughly unconventional way. The X-Cite sweets are sold in little cardboard boxes, not unlike matchboxes, which have a sliding compartment that you open out. When you first open the packet, you have to tear off a little strip on the side to release the sliding compartment. At the end of this compartment is a little hole, through which you can tip the sweets into your hand, before stuffing them in your mouth. The design of the box is very jazzy, with trendy graphics and bright colours. As well as being attractive, the packaging is also practical of course – I can’t really think of any other way of containing 40 little round sweets.I do have some reservations about carrying these sweets around though. For me, one of the advantages of conventional chewing gum is that it is packaged very tightly and you can slip it into any pocket or compartment inconspicuously. I also like the way that as you work your way down a packet of chewing gum, you can rip off the unwanted paper, and leave only the unused sweets in your pocket. With X-Cite, you are stuck with the whole box from the first sweet right through until the fortieth. The box isn’t terribly large – about two and a half inches long – but it still takes up more room than normal gum. The other thing is that the box is very susceptible to being crushed. I quite often slip chewing gum in my back pocket. If you do this with X-Cite, you flatten the box, and make a right mess of things. One major advantage of the X-Cite design is that you no longer need suffer from “warm gum problems”. If you keep chewing gum in your front pockets, it has a tendency to get all warm and soft, which is infinitely unappetising to anybody to whom you offer a piece. The X-Cite box keeps the pellets away from your body and therefore keeps them quite cool.
One suggestion that I do have for the manufacturers is to have a hole in the sliding drawer at both ends, so that regardless of which way you push it, you can get the mints out. (To be fair, there is a directional arrow advising which way you should push, but do you think people will notice this at seven a.m.?)ABOUT THE PEARLS
The X-Cite sweets themselves are very small – not much larger than those little silver balls that you use to decorate the top of a cake – and each pack contains forty of them. I can’t decide whether the manufacturers believe that one pearl is enough, or whether they want you to cram a few in at once. Given their size, I think there is an inevitable desire to take two or three at once – one just doesn’t seem enough.When you first put the sweets in your mouth, they are already soft enough to chew as gum, and if you do this, you get a sudden burst of strong mint flavour. I prefer to suck them a bit to start with, because this releases the mint flavour a little more slowly and doesn’t assault your senses. The mint flavour does become quite strong – not quite as strong as an Extra Strong Mint, but stronger than conventional Wrigley’s Extra. If you suck the sweets, the mint flavour lasts for about five or ten minutes, before all the mint coating dissolves and you are left with the ball of gum. The gum retains some of the mint flavour, but I find that fifteen or twenty minutes later, the gum is virtually tasteless- rather like conventional brands.
So what do X-Cite sweets do? I quite like them in that they provide a burst of flavour that does freshen your mouth and leaves it with that cool, minty feeling when you breath in and out. I like the way that this is achieved, without being horrendously overpowering and making your nose sweat like some mints do. It’s also good that they are sugar-free, because they are a good supplement for cleaning your teeth after food. I have to say that this product is not particularly exciting – it’s really just normal chewing gum with a slightly stronger crunchy coating than normal.THINGS I DON’T LIKE
I haven’t really taken to the idea of these sweets being so small, and for me they rather defeat the object, because I tend to eat four or five at once, just to get the same amount of gum. The gum itself is virtually the same as normal chewing gum, although it seems to become flavourless more quickly than conventional gum. I’m not keen on the idea of having a box in my pocket either. I can make a packet of gum last a day or two, but in that time, a box of X-Cite generally gets crushed and falls to pieces.My main reservation about X-Cite is that I think that the sweets are a genuine choking hazard, purely because of their size. With normal chewing gum, I tend to put a piece in my mouth and just chew, without really thinking about it. With this stuff, I find myself constantly concentrating on my mouth, ever wary of the danger of one of the pearls disappearing down the back of my throat. Unless you eat more than five or six, the same problem occurs when the sweets turn into gum, because the piece of gum is very small. Indeed, I actually find myself sucking the gum or chewing it gently with my front teeth, without wanting to get it too close to the back of my mouth – which does rather defeat the object! As a consequence of these things, I would never allow children to eat these sweets – I just couldn’t run the risk of them choking.
FINAL VERDICTAt first appearance, X-Cite sweets seem like relatively good value at 49p for 40 pearls. 49p is a fair bit more than you would need to pay for a packet of Extra, but you do get a lot more sweets for your money. However, once you start consuming the sweets, you quickly realise that you need so many at a time that a packet of these doesn’t go that far at all. Consequentially, 49p is actually quite a lot of money, when you could buy sweets that do exactly the same thing for a lot less. I don’t like the efforts of the manufacturer to give these sweets a trendy appeal – it’s all just a gimmick and when you sweep away the pretty girls and the funky box, there is nothing really new about this product. I still also hold to my original observation that people who like mints don’t like chewing gum and vice versa. As such, I don’t really see a long-lasting demand for this product.
Conceptually, this is not a bad product, but the reality only had limited appeal for me and I certainly wouldn’t recommend these sweets to anyone else.Not recommended.
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