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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Top Ten Strange and Unusual Japanese Chewing Gums

by Steve Levenstein

Chews your poison...

These Ten Strange and Unusual Japanese Chewing Gums are really not bad as chewing gum goes - some are actually quite good!

Japanese chewing gum differs from American chewing gum in many ways, and that probably is a result of the practical way Japan looks at chewing gum. Since it's merely chewed for a while and then disposed of, it just makes sense for chewing gum to serve some function, ANY function before being spat out. This way of thinking can produce some VERY strange and unusual types of chewing gum, and from them we've assembled this Top Ten list! Now then, let's get down to the good, the bad and the sticky!

10) No Time Gum: Eat Your Toothbrush!

No time to brush your teeth? No problem - if you've got No Time Gum! This multifunctional minty mélange contains tiny granules that scrub your teeth clean as a whistle while you chew. Is this cool, or what? Gum that works as hard as you do while saving you time and, presumably, dentist visits. I can just hear Mom now... "Chew your gum before going to bed!" (chewing gum via J-List)

9) "Man Smell" Gum - Not Just for Athletic Supporters

Yes, the title threw me too, but that's what "Otoko Kaoru" translates to. Luckily there's much more to it than that - like the previously mentioned Fuwarinka Scented Gum, Man Smell gum contains those special Rose oils that escape through your skin after chewing. This one exudes a manly Menthol Rose aroma, not just your average sweaty-guy funkiness. Let's be thankful for that, at least. (chewing gum via Food for Thought)

8) Chewing Gum with After-Wrappers - A Neat Idea

Perhaps frightened by word of the infamous Singapore Chewing Gum Ban and Caning Bylaw, the manufacturers of Xylish (pronounced "Zee-Lish") gum decided to add a packet of after-wrappers to their plastic jug o' gum. When you're ready to ditch your chaw, just wrap & toss into the nearest trashcan. This is actually a wonderful idea that other gum manufacturers should follow, it would save the look of our streets by giving people a viable gum disposal option instead of just spitting it out. (chewing gum via Betterdays)

7) Digi-Gum: 4 out of 5 Nutty Professors Agree!

More Xylish gum, this time in "Funky Orange" flavor. The gum itself isn't odd, but the character on the pack is... it sure looks a lot like Jerry Lewis in full-out Nutty Professor mode. Why "Digi-Gum"? Who knows, but doesn't that sound hip & trendy? The gum's active ingredient, Xylitol, is very popular in Japanese gums - it's sweet but doesn't cause tooth decay. (chewing gum via My So-Called Japanese Life)

Check out this cool Japanese TV chewing gum commercial!

6) Sparkle Ninja Chewing Gum, for Flamboyant Ninjas

Strawberry flavored Sparkling Ninja Chewing Gum isn't Japanese, it's just acting that way. I mean, who ever heard of a ninja in a pink outfit? Not that there's anything wrong with that... but isn't being un-noticeable the whole point of being a ninja? Then again, walking down most any major Japanese city street clad in sparkling pink tights isn't going to draw much attention these days anyway. (chewing gum via Mcphee)

5) Black Black Gum - Bigger and Blacker than Before

Didn't they used to sell black gum on the back pages of comic books? Or was it black soap? In any case, Black Black Gum is not for the faint of heart. Just ask Jean-Claude van Damme... the "Muscles from Brussels" promoted the macho chew in a series of Japanese TV ads. According to the print on the package, Black Black Gum has a "Hi Technical Taste". It also has caffeine, niacin and a really powerful licorice-mint taste, making it ideal for those late night cram sessions before a high technical college exam. (chewing gum via 3-Yen)

4) Xylish Platinum Mint Chardonnay Flavor - Smell Drunk, Stay Sober

So you're driving along on a dark evening, not a care in the world, until those telltale flashing lights appear - you've been pulled over by The Law. What NOT to do? Pop a stick of Xylish Platinum Mint "Chardonnay" Flavor Gum in your mouth while waiting for Officer Smith to sidle up alongside. Imagine the fun you'll have, watching him puzzle over the Breathalyzer readings while you exhale wine-breath into the tester yet one more time! Wine-flavored gum... puts those English "Wine Gums" to shame! And, it's the perfect way to disguise a visit to a bar. (chewing gum via Giant Jeans Parlor)

3) Fuwarinka Scented Gum: Come Out Smelling Like a Rose

Now here's a radical idea that, curiously, hasn't caught on outside Japan: gum that makes your breath AND your body smell good! Futuristic Fuwarinka Scented Gum contains the aromatic compounds geraniol and linalool which, when swallowed, waft either Fresh Citrus or Fruity Rose aromas through your skin! Just imagine how much money you'll save on cologne, aftershave and deodorant? (chewing gum via Compact Impact)

2) Sex Gum for Men: Like Chewable Viagra?

Suplitol Tongkat Ali Gum for Men contains a variety of natural herbs and extracts proven (they say) to improve blood flow and muscular function - and they don't mean in your arms, regardless of what the ad photo displays. The gum also contains something called "plant testosterone"... hey, have you ever seen a limp tree? (chewing gum via Get Bust Up Gum)

1) Bust Up Gum: It Blows Up Your Bubbles!

Sorry ladies, if you thought that a Japanese "sex gum for women" was going to be the complement of the just mentioned Suplitol Tongkat Ali Gum for Men, you're going to be sadly disappointed - and probably more than a little annoyed. Bust Up Gum, the female sex gum from B2UP, just makes the fairer sex more sexy - in the eyes of the opposite sex!

None of that blood flow stuff, noooo... according to B2UP, the special ingredients, "extracts from the Pueraria mirifica (Kwao Krua) plant, makes a woman's breasts grow as well as improving their shape and tone." I didn't know breasts HAD a tone - unless it's High C (or B Flat). Still, it's amazing... boob-enhancing gum. They could call it Double Bubble if the name wasn't already taken.

Bust Up gum is just the latest Japanese food product containing Pueraria extracts - others include F-Cup Tea and F-Cup Cookies. Can't say they're not confident in their products! Y'know, Bust Up gum has the potential to replace Ex-Lax chocolate as the snack schoolyard pranksters offer their unsuspecting targets. Can you imagine the expression on some poor proto-geek's face after being told he just chewed Bust Up gum? Let's hope that scenario remains in the field of imagination! (chewing gum via Medical News Today)

And there you have it, a dozen less two Japanese chewing gums you won't find at your local candy counter - for better or worse. Browse some of the better online stores like Rinkya to get some. I'm sure there are stranger, even more unusual Japanese chewing gums out there, somewhere, so please comment with your discoveries!

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer