1980s Soda Gum!

I’d been staring at a blank Word document for more than fifteen minutes, too crippled with anxiety to begin this review. The annoying thing was my inability to pinpoint the reason for this anxiety. My deadlines were met, my bills are all paid, and I’m not on fire.

Then it hit me. About an hour ago, I tried to chew greasy, juice-filled bubble gum that is older than most of the people reading this. What I’m feeling isn’t anxiety. I’m just plain nauseous.

I don’t know exactly when they came out, nor when they were discontinued. Let’s pretend that these things aren’t important.

What is important is that they’re bubble gums based on different sodas. If you’re an old bat like me, you should remember these. As I recall, they weren’t often seen, making our experiences with them all the more special.

This was a different breed of gum. They seemed so extravagant, and still do today. Even if their gooey insides couldn’t have tasted exactly like the sodas they were based on, it was easy to trick ourselves into believing they did. After all, the wrapper said “7UP” right on it, with a picture of the damn can. The wrapper also said “big chunks,” and while being neither here nor there, I think we all liked that, too.

So, from my personal stock of terribly old food, I present three flavors of 1980s soda gum: 7UP, Cherry 7UP, and Dr Pepper. I’m most drawn to the Cherry 7UP, because it sounds delicious, and also because the wrapper’s color palette makes me want to, I don’t know, paint a wall.

Opening the gum was no small feat. It was a bittersweet thing that took a lot of psychological revving. My heart knew that I’d never again have the chance to open sealed packs of 1980s soda gum.

What, you thought that my reviews just effortlessly came to life, leaving no destruction in their collective wake? Wrong. I pay for everything I do with little pieces of my soul.

The gum is in shitty condition, with the different pieces in various states of decay.

Original 7UP got the worst of it; the inner goo is well on its way to dissolving the gum shell, leaving me with a sticky piece of I Don’t Want To Touch That. The piece of Cherry 7UP fared only a little better. Dr Pepper escaped the same fate, but it’s stale enough to crack the teeth of any animal, even one known for incredible tooth powers. Let’s say the hyena.

As you can see, 1980s soda gum patterned its formula after Freshen-Up. Instead of bursts of syrupy mouthwash, you’re meant to get bursts of brand name soda.

Though Dr Pepper may have been the safest to try, I recall hating that flavor as a kid. I was a late bloomer with Dr Pepper, after all. It wasn’t until the early ‘90s, when the vending machine at Wildwood’s Nassau Inn ran out of Coke, that I finally understood the Power of the Pep.

And I couldn’t try the 7UP because… well, look at it. There’s a difference between going all-in for a review, and signing my life away just so I can write that I chewed old gum. I admit that the torn piece of 7UP gum does have an odd beauty, but I think it’s a beauty best admired from afar.

That left the Cherry 7UP. Like it was ever a competition, anyway. I freakin’ loved that stuff as a kid. Even today, it didn’t taste bad, but I would only allow myself three brief chews. None of them made complete use of my chomping abilities. I just couldn’t take a chance on too much ancient gum juice finding its way to my stomach. Even with the tiny amount that got through, I’m barely five minutes away from throwing up a hell of a lot more than ancient gum juice. Hindsight is a bitch, and I shouldn’t have picked yesterday to try monkey’s guts.

If a song I like coming on the radio means “—“ much to me, and winning $1000 on a scratch-off card means “———-“ much to me, I’d say that this old soda gum at means “——“ much to me. This paragraph will forever keep me from citing this review on a Harper’s application.

A quick browse of total strangers’ Flickr accounts reminds me that ‘80s soda gum had other flavors, too. Flavors like RC Cola. That sounds gross. There’s a reason the “cola” side of the ICEE machine is always full.

54 Responses to 1980s Soda Gum!

  1. I remember these well, and lament that no similar gums exist to my knowledge on the shelves of 2013.

    Good call on picking the cherry flavor – I would have done the same. Maybe if you spit out the chewed part onto another piece of gum, it would have tasted better?

  2. Dr Pepper gum has returned! Click my name!

  3. Of all the things I miss from my childhood, this is most in need of a comeback. And Bonkers. And Giggles.

  4. So so so so so happy this exists! I distinctly remember one St. Nick’s Day when we got packs of these in our stockings. I seem to remember an A&W one too. Can anyone verify this?

  5. ^Oh man, and that Hawaiian Punch gum. Soooo good.

  6. @Paul: Ah, but does it have the glorious center of goo?

    @Thorzul: Yup, that was another one!

  7. I was having a lousy day until this happened. When you eat old food, I just…I don’t know. It makes me want to compose sonnets.

    I think I must have eaten this stuff at one time, because just seeing the photo filled my nose with a smell so real it seems impossible that my brain is just making it up.

    Thank you for this.

  8. I had just seen a photo of bright green baby poop on Stfu Parents, yet the look of that 7up gum is what will be making me sick to my stomach.

    Have I thanked you Matt, for always taking one for the team? Good on you!

  9. Really? I always loved the cola side of the icee machine. Not quite as much as mixing BOTH sides so I could participate in the bizarre alchemy that was the production of my very own cherry coke…but still, I had many regular cola flavor cups.

  10. You can get both Dr Pepper and Orange Crush Hubba Bubba on Amazon. I put a link on my name so if you click it you can go there and I don’t even get a kick back. By the way, these are recent flavors so they should pop right out of their wrappers with no sickly discoloring or dissolving of the gum base.

    Enjoy and you’re welcome….

  11. I also really miss Gatorgum and Pumpkinhead gum. Do you remember Pumpkin Head gum, Matt? That was a Halloween staple for me.

    If you can hunt down any Gatorgum, I would most definitely enter into a contest to win a pack of that stuff. When I was a kid I actually imagined myself getting less thirsty when I chewed a stick of the lemon-lime.

  12. Did they smell like the flavours?

  13. I remember begging my mom to buy me a pack of the Dr. Pepper gum as a kid, and how even back then I was intimidated by the mystical soda trapped inside. I had a little ‘junk’ drawer in our kitchen where I kept all the stupid edibles and vending machine toys I coerced my parents into buying, and I remember the unopened package of Dr. Pepper gum sitting in there for what seemed like ages before getting up the courage to try a piece…but then again, I was a kid, so it was probably more like a week and a half.

    Anyhow, my memory is a little fuzzy, but I remember them being wrapped up in foil like Sucrets (not sure if Sucrets were actually individually wrapped, but my brain THINKS they were), and having that weird little dimple in the middle. I ALSO remember being thoroughly disgusted by the ONE piece of gum that I tried, spitting it out after just a couple of chews.

    Even so, I demanded that we keep the remaining portions of the gum because, hey, it was gum filled with Dr. Pepper! One does not simply throw away a treasure such as soda encapsulated in a hard candy-like shell – no, that disgusting pack of gum sat in my junk drawer for YEARS, until it leaked out of its packaging and made a tremendous, sticky mess (no doubt ruining countless packs of those candy cigarettes I used to horde).

    I actually think back on this gum fairly regularly, but only as a cautionary tale…every time I think to myself, “Hey, Dr. Pepper Ice Cream Syrup!” or, “Orange Crush glazed bundt cake!”, I think back on these gross little nibblets and slowly put whatever horrid, science-gone-wrong soda/food hybrid back on the shelf.

  14. Matt, you are a true master of your craft. I can’t even eat day old popcorn.

    Soda gum made my millennium. I forgot I had a pack of these in my backpack leading to an unbelievable mess all over the books. Thank goodness for paperbag book covers.

  15. God i want cherry 7up so bad!

  16. let me go have a look at the flickr page and see if I remember some…I do remember Hawaiian punch flavor(not goo)A&W, Cherry cola bubble yum(not goo) Dr. Pepper and the 7 ups.

  17. This post makes me miss Freshen-up gum. My mom always had that in her bag.

  18. Cherry 7-UP gum sounds amazing.

  19. I actually just picked up a packet of Hubba Bubba’s Orange Crush flavor this past weekend at Wal-Mart.

    It made me miss Bubbalicious because the Hubba Bubba brand does not do the flavor of orange justice. It needed to be way more sour.

    I remember the Dr. Pepper gum very specifically, though, and I loved it. I used to love those gums that were filled with that viscous liquid on the inside.

  20. I feel like I’m the only person earth that likes r.c. Cola. It mostly stands from the fact that when I was little I used to think it was the brand if soda royalty drank.

  21. This is a story for another day, but I’ve had a few surgeries in my life and I can tell you this: that split-open chunk of Cherry 7-Up looks just like gaping surgical wounds. When I see it, the scent of the soda is not the aroma that comes to mind. ‘Nuf said.

    But I’d definitely have tried the Dr. Pepper one. My tastebuds have scientifically concluded that a progression of this soda type, from most-sweet to most-bitter, runs thusly: Cherry Pepsi, Cherry Coke, Mr. Pibb, Dr. Pepper, Moxie. I love a good Moxie, but my fave remains Mr. Pibb. Remember: like beer on draft, it tastes better from a soda fountain.

  22. I remember these all very well. I’m a couple months older than you, I’m NOT an old bat!

  23. Yes! My grandpa always had this in his suit pocket….haven’t seen or had any of this since 1985 or so….wish it would come back!

  24. I know they still make those soda flavored candies (7Up,A&W,Orange Crush, and somethin else) but the only place I’ve ever found them was at Walgreens.

    I was at Dollar General yesterday and I saw something that MIGHT be soda related, although I’e yet to try them. You know those single use juice powder mixes that are all the rage now? Well, I got some Squirt, along with Orange/Strawberry/Grape Crush mixes. Granted, they’re probably just regular juice powders, but I’d think it’d be cool if they DID taste like their sodas.

    Also saw a Trancers three-DVD pack, along with a Dollman/Demonic Toys three-pack. If I had the money I would hve bought them.

    Did you know Larry the Cable guy now has his own food line? I got some cheeseburger potato chips, but I’ve also seen frozen hamburgers patties, plus a Hamburger Helper-type thing.

  25. GatorGum is not made anymore BUT there’s a gum called “Quench Gum” that is pretty much the same thing.

  26. Where do you get all this crazy, themed old food-stuffs from? I hope you are not buying them off of Ebay as you could probably spend your entire mortgage/rent on these things every month! Likewise, if you have saved them, what gave you the foresight to save such things? The temptation for me, as a kid, would have been too great. My mother always tried to get me to “save” my Barbie dolls, which we did for some, but most I had to open up and play with in the bathtub. Esp. the ones that came with special decorative “bathroom foam.”

  27. Yes, yes and yes. I wish they still made these because I want to chew them.

  28. Great stuff! I remember the Dr. Pepper variety. Slush Puppy the Icee or Slurpee of the Midwest had its own gum I recall as a kid. Didn’t realize Cherry 7-Up had been around that long.

  29. I remember these,and for some reason I remember the packages being just as beat up looking back then as they do in your picture now.It’s as if they were made hastily and shipped via the trunk of a Chevy Chevette(it’ll drive you happy) to the Cumberland Farms right off the freeway exit.I remember thinking”This must be what the floor of the Spectrum tastes like”.Now I have to say that until recently I was always disappointed in candy that was supposed to taste like soda.But recently someone gave me thi little tiny six pack of plastic soda cans filled with pellet candies flavored like Cola,Lemon Lime, Grape and Orange soda.They were the best interpretations of non liquid soda I ever had!Has anyon else ever tried these?

  30. I quite fondly remember these, too. I probably tried all three of them at one time or another, but the Cherry 7-Up was my favorite. It was sooo cherry-tasting!

  31. love your site. i used to love chewels gum. it was bubble gum with that gel inside. it was awesome. the pics online show shiny gum pieces but the kind i had were dull pink like regular gum.


  32. Just tried the Squirt powder mix and it really does taste like the soda instead of just another lemonade mix. HIGHLY recommended.

  33. I just had a pack of non-1980′s liquid filled Dr. P. bubble gum.

    Not bad but I would enjoy an A&W gum is one such thing exist beyong the Trident Root Beer Float gun.

  34. I’m just happy to see the hyena shout out. I’m easily made happy–thanks Dino Drac!

  35. In Canada, the province of Quebec (where I live) is like, OWNED by Pepsi or something. It is the only available option at every restaurant. Anyways, as a kid, I chewed the hell out of PEPSI gum. I refused to admit it wasn’t actually that great…but it WAS a great chew, if you know what I mean.

  36. I don’t know. I’ve never been able to get into things that taste like soda but aren’t soda. Also I can’t handle gum with liquid centers. That picture of the three gums sliced in half is kinda making me gag. Especially the 7-Up one. That’s a nasty shade of green.

  37. Wildwood’s Nassau Inn………man oh man. That was my family’s back up in the event that the Waikiki didn’t have room.

    Maybe I will book a weekend to just go there and smell the place. All of those hotel/motels were great! From the rooftop gift shops to the astroturf decks.

  38. King JLA Ball Park has a new line of freezer foods now. Sliders, sides etc. Also precooked hamburger patties. I tried the hamburger patties last night and they are very good. They have a bit of seasoning to them. They are kind of pricey, but Coupons.com has a 3.00 off 2 printable coupon that makes it not so bad.

    I never have seen this gum before. The two color thing the Cherry 7-Up gum is doing is totally gross. And I love Cherry 7-Up from time to time. I bet some Sherbet floating in it would be good.

  39. Between this and the dancing blobs of Crest toothpaste, you’re reawakening memories I thought long dead! I remember being a little weirded out by 7-UP flavored gum even as a child.

  40. My sisters used to have lip gloss that tasted like Dr. Pepper, 7-Up, Crush, and A&W. It was for girls only, but hell yes I wore it! It was soda that stayed on your lips for hours…

    And one of them had a necklace of a tiny Dr. Pepper can. Being a kid rules.

  41. Wow, so it wasn’t just some weird dream… this stuff actually did exist.

    Fond memories of buying one of each of these from the corner store and then settling in for an overcast Saturday of throwing the NES controller at the TV screen, while trying to finish Simon’s Quest without the help of a translator/strategy guide/older sibling.

  42. Thanks for taking one for the team! Any Hot and Cold Nerds in that expired food pile of yours?

  43. My Kingdom for Gatorgum!!!

  44. I might take a chance with the Dr Pepper or Cherry 7up. But that original 7 up flavored piece of gum looks like a chunky lung booger.

  45. I don’t have anything to say except that you’ve done it again! There you go again dredging up long lost food memories that I would have never remembered had it not been for this article. Thanks!

  46. I bought a pack of Dr Pepper gum from Circle K a week or so ago. I believe there were other soda flavors, but I don’t recall which. They didn’t have any gooey filling, though, which is somewhat disappointing.

    Derdavenwarrior: RC is my cola of choice. It straddles the soda line. It has Coke’s “harshness” (somewhat) while being almost as sweet as Pepsi but without the whole “going flat five minutes after you open it” thing going on that Pepsi suffers from. Plus, it’s cheaper than both. I think it’s usually about $3 or so for a 12 pack compared to the premium price of Coke and Pepsi. Let the haters hate and spend more money while we enjoy our affordable, but delicious, Royal Crown.

  47. There are new pop flavored gums out through Hubba Bubba right now I found at my local gas station actually. Thing is, they don’t have the filling in them from what I saw.

    Dr. Pepper and Orange Crush were the two I saw.

    Oh, Matt, this webpage talks even further about these gums as well as shows off all of the other flavors that were available and pop flavored gums of days gone by…


  48. I remember gum like this…and by that, I mean gum with a liquid center. I remember the texture of the gum and even the way the liquid felt when you bit into it. I’m sure I had the soda gum at one point or another, but I think I had Freshen Up more than the soda gum. Do they even make Freshen Up anymore?

  49. There was a greeting card(well they sold greeting cards and sundries) store in a strip mall near one of my childhood homes, that always had this stuff in stock. Of course they couldn’t have put actual soda in it, but your right, we made ourselves believe that it actually tasted like the soda. This stuff was top shelf gum. I would pass over Fruit Stripe jumbo packs for this stuff. It was that good. From your pictures, you wouldn’t believe this was good stuff. But for those of us in the know, this was great stuff.

    I envy all of the cool old food you seem to have. Another awesome post!

  50. I was addicted to that Dr. pepper gum. They sold it at Cracker Barrel and every time we went I begged my parents to get me a pack or two.

  51. These I do not remember. But I do remember buying Gatorade gum with a liquid center!

  52. I remember buying an A&W Rootbeer pack and some Freddy Kruger trading cards….good times!

  53. I remember getting the A&W Root Beer one on the way to a funeral.

  54. I had the luxury of growing up about 3 blocks from the company that manufactured these 3 products which was Amaral Company. The beautiful part was that they did focus groups involving the local kids to try these new products before going to production. Trying Dr. Pepper gum was about the greatest thing in the world to a then 8yr old. When they handed you a goodie bag about the size of a solid night of Halloween scoring, that was the ultimate prize. I believe the dentists in my town made a killing off this company. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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