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.

  • jason

    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.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewels

  • King JLA

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

  • AdamX

    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.

  • Sean (of the fish)

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

  • Muppet Baby

    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.

  • http://nostalgiajunkie.net Annette

    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.

  • Jess

    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.

  • Goob

    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.

  • http://zaraksbarracks.blogspot.com/ Black Zarak

    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.

  • Whalley Range

    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.

  • Conan Troutman

    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.

  • http://www.poprewind.com Pop Rewind

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

  • countz3r0

    My Kingdom for Gatorgum!!!

  • Barry

    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.

  • Beth

    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!

  • Harvey

    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.

  • MST3KFan

    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…

    http://www.collectingcandy.com/wordpress/?p=8079

  • http://www.facebook.com/therealteddyray Teddy Ray

    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?

  • http://jasonvorhees.wordpress.com Jason

    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!

  • http://ontheline.lastrevelation.org stephen_od

    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.

  • Heather

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

  • David

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

  • http://www.iamthelaw.net Paul O

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

  • Dave Smith

    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!