Surely you remember Cinn*A*Burst!
The legendary gum was Warner-Lambert’s attempt to do battle with Wrigley’s Big Red. How on Earth did they lose that war?!
Cinn*A*Burst hit the scene in September of 1991, just as I was entering the seventh grade. I hated all of middle school, but the seventh grade was a special kind of awful.
I was awkward and unpopular. I wore terrible clothes. My hair looked like the world’s biggest mushroom cap. My primary modes were “easy to ignore” and “easy to target.”
I mention this not to be maudlin, but because Cinn*A*Burst was actually my best weapon against the perils of junior high. In the seventh grade, you could buy your way out of plenty of trouble with the right gum.
Cinn*A*Burst was infused with “flavor crystals,” giving it a boost of candied spice and an oddly pleasant crunch. Everybody loved Cinn*A*Burst. At least, every kid in my junior high school did.
Five days a week, I’d bring at least six packs of it to school with me. Generally speaking, the kids I might’ve had issues with chose to let me live… as long as I shared my gum. I was like Augustus with his corn doles, only instead of becoming a beloved ruler, my reward was to not get punched in the ear.
I don’t know exactly when Cinn*A*Burst stopped being made, but it did. By then, I wasn’t paying attention. This amazing gum that meant so much for my mouth and social status went out with a whimper, and I’ll forever regret not being there during its time of need. All I can do now is help to keep the memory alive.
To jog your memories, below are examinations its five best TV commercials:
#1: Cinn*A*Burst: May Not Be Suitable For Adults!
Cinn*A*Burst was marketed as a “renegade gum,” perfect for kids but anathema for adults. Honestly, we all kind of bought it. Seeing these classically stereotypical teachers talk smack about Cinn*A*Burst just made it seem that much more appealing.
Love the random shots of those cool teens — some of whom looked to be in their twenties — treating packs of Cinn*A*Burst like heaven-sent, tabloid-approved accessories. (I remember aspiring to be just like that blonde kid. The one who uses a pack of Cinn*A*Burst like a hacky sack. He clearly had it all. And now he’s 58 years old.)
#2: Cinn*A*Burst: Shark Eats A Wrestler!
Years after Cinn*A*Burst was already established, OUT CAME THE SHARKS. These guys were fantastic! The same two appeared in several commercials, and the setup was always the same. Shark #1 eats someone with Cinn*A*Burst breath, and Shark #2 is all jealous and congratulatory.
In this version, Shark #1 just got through eating a pro-wrestler. (And he’s not lying, because we see a teeth-torn championship belt drifting in the water.) The sharks have zero remorse for the fallen grappler, and in fact giggle about how stupid wrestlers are!
You had to love these guys. They were antiheroes of the truest kind.
#3: Cinn*A*Burst: Shark Eats A Surfer!
More of the same, but with a surfer replacing the wrestler. Most memorable about this version is how psychotic Shark #2 acts, mixing repeated phrases with from-left-field cackles. A pure delight for anyone dark enough to admire the concept of evil sharks being used as a method to sell gum.
#4: Mint*A*Burst: Shark Eats A Surfer!
Cinn*A*Burst was popular enough to warrant a few spinoffs, like Mint*A*Burst. While the original matched wits with Big Red, I suppose Mint*A*Burst was Warner-Lambert’s answer to Wrigley’s Doublemint. (As an aside, between the asterisks and the italics, this post is a real PITFGDA to write.)
This commercial is almost exactly the same as the previous, but now the sharks brag about that dead surfer while swimming in minty green water. It’s a mindfuck to watch one right after the other, but I suppose CG shark commercials weren’t cheap to produce. My loyalty is to Cinn*A*Burst, but I can’t deny that this glowing emerald sea is pretty damn appetizing.
(I can’t explain it. It just is.)
#5: Fruit*A*Burst: An Explosion Of Flavor!
The last of the trio was Fruit*A*Burst. The NegaDuck version of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit.
This ad had a message! Fruit*A*Burst was TOTALLY EXTREME! They portrayed it as a bomb, with the pack having a lit fuse and everything. When it explodes, all of the super cool kids fly off into space, surrounded by giant limes and oranges.
I guess it works, but I do miss the sharks.
Now, some of these ads are from the late ‘90s. By then, companies had discovered this here “internet” thing, leading to product websites with Geocities-level designs, most with the kind of charm that one can only truly appreciate in retrospect.
The website mentioned in these commercials – burstgum.com – is no longer online, but if there was ever a reason to consult the Wayback Machine, it’s to piece together bits from Cinn*A*Burst’s old website.
The above screenshots (that’s a slideshow, if you didn’t notice) come from the 1996 version of Cinn*A*Burst’s website. The sharks were the primary stars, and there was even a side page dedicated to real life shark facts!
Owing to the Burst trio’s “extreme” motif, there were also links to unrelated “x-treme sports” pages, along with lists of alternative rock bands. (?!!)
Even stranger is that this website — this website that only existed to promote chewing gum — was sponsored by Tetra. Tetra as in, “the company that sells fish food.” I get the tenuous link to the sharks, but still… huh?
Still, there was one extra special bit of gold hiding deep within those pages:
The official Burst Gum screensaver!
Miraculously, the download still worked, but just so you can avoid the goose chase, I’ve uploaded it here.
It is GLORIOUS. The screensaver starts with the sharks swimming over black. Then it changes to random Burst Gum advertisements that blur and blink and make my computer feel so much older than it really is. As an added bonus, every element gets “shark bit” into nothingness before something else pops up. I believe those in showbiz call that the “shark wipe.”
Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible if that file destroys your computer. I don’t know if there are any safety issues involved with installing promotional screensavers from 1996. Personally, I think pixilated sharks that yell about gum are worth any risk.
Love you, Cinn*A*Burst. In my dreams, I still chew you.