For a good number of people, caffeine is a big part of their day to day routine.
Whether they get their caffeine fix in a cup of coffee or an energy drink, a lot of folks look forward to that time of day when caffeine takes them from low to high energy.
In fact, it's such a big part of many people's lives, that companies are making all kinds of products with caffeine in them, not just beverages.
Today, consumers can purchase caffeinated breakfast foods, potato chips and even jelly beans. And in North Carolina a scientist has figured out how to add caffeine to donuts and bagels.
As we reported last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will take a closer look to determine if products like these are actually safe, especially for children. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael R. Taylor said these caffeinated products have agency very concerned.
"One pack of this gum is like having four cups of coffee in your pocket. The proliferation of these products in the marketplace is very disturbing to us," he said in a published interview.
After learning about Alert Energy gum, I had to see if it really had the strength of four cups of coffee, so I picked up a pack at a local 7-Eleven.
I've never had caffeinated gum before, so I wanted to see how well Alert worked, in terms of waking me up and how good it tasted. Because it's still a piece of gum, so it should taste good or at least be tolerable, right?
So over the weekend, I waited for the afternoon, because that's when I usually experience a little fatigue and have a crash like a lot of people do. I popped in a piece of the gum, which came in a pack of eight for $2.99. I chose "fruit" flavor because it seemed it would be the tastiest.
I must say, right off the bat, the gum tasted horrible.
Within the first couple of chews, I was instantly hit with an intensely bitter flavor that seemed to be part stale cup of black coffee, part licorice. The two flavors definitely didn't make for a winning taste combination.
The piece of gum itself is quite big and is sort of a rounded hexagon shape.
And when chewed, it filled up my mouth like a big piece of bubble gum, which may be too much for people who are used to chewing smaller pieces of minty flavored gums like Dentyne.
As far as the fruit flavor, it was non-existent and it definitely didn't help the flavor of the gum, and it seemed the longer I chewed, the harder it was to keep it in my mouth.
But Wrigley, the creator of Alert Energy caffeine gum, isn't using taste to attract consumers. It's using its energy boost.
On the futuristic-looking package, it says one piece of gum is equal to a half cup of coffee, suggesting you get more jolt with less caffeine.
So I first started to chew the gum at 2:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon and waited to see how long it would take for the energy to kick in.
In my experience, a cup of coffee takes about 30 minutes before I actually feel its effects. But since I use energy drinks more than coffee, I'm used to feeling a jolt in about 5 to 10 minutes, so I was eager to see how well the gum worked.
At around 3:15 pm, I did notice a slight energy boost.
It wasn't a drastic boost in energy like a 5-hour Energy drink gives. It was closer to what a cup of coffee does, as the caffeine seemed to slowly wake me up. So Alert gum did provide the energy it promised.
But the biggest challenge with the gum was keeping it in my mouth long enough for the caffeine to kick in, because it tasted awful. Once I blocked out the taste, I was fully awake and alert about 45 minutes after I started chewing.
And how long did the energy boost last?
For me, a cup of coffee doesn't last long, so I usually have to drink two cups a day to avoid a crash. Energy drinks can give you a boost for hours, but if taken too late in the day they can sometimes keep you awake at night or not allow you to get a good night's sleep. But with the Alert gum, the jolt only lasted for about 2 hours until I started to feel it wear off a bit.
The good thing is that I didn't experience a crash of any kind and once the jolt did wear off, I was still a little more awake than before I chewed the gum.
So overall how did Alert Energy do?
If you can stand the bad taste and don't feel like having an energy drink or a cup of coffee, it's not bad. In terms of crashing, it was similar to coffee in that the effect wore off gradually.
And compared to energy drinks, the caffeine feeling came on more gradually, which can be nice if you don't like that intensely awake feeling right out of the gate.
But because of the bad taste, you might want to stick with your morning coffee, because it's hard to keep the gum in your mouth. If you do chew it, it will only be for the jolt not the taste.
Lastly, it's important to keep the stuff away from children, because pieces can be easily confused with normal pieces of gum, because they look so similar. So be sure not to leave Alert in the reach of a child or have it mixed up with your other gums or candies.
In addition, you may want to wait until we hear what the FDA says before you start buying boxes of the stuff.
For a good amount of people, caffeine is a big part of their day to day.Whether people get their caffeine fix in a cup of coffee or an energy drink, &nbs...