Our favorite gum overlords, Wrigely’s, came out with a high end gum called 5 a few years ago. On an aside, writing the words “high end” and “gum” in the same sentence just now made me throw up a little bit in my mouth. It’s fucking gum, does it really need to move upmarket?
The first flavors were takes on your basic cinnamon, spearmint, and peppermint, except given hip new names like Flare, Rain, and Cobalt. Last year they came out with two additional flavors, Lush (tropical) and Elixir (berry). This year two more flavors join the fold, Zing (raspberry?) and Solstice (wintergreen). I’ve had all of these flavors before (maybe I’ll do a roundup some day), but today I tried Solstice for the first time.
If you’re not familiar with 5 gum, the striking thing is the packaging. When you’re paying $1.50 (yes, that’s how much they cost at my local CVS) for a 15 stick pack of gum, what you’re really paying for is the elaborate packaging. As someone in the print industry, I do have to give Wrigley’s credit for trying something a little different for their thin-stick gums. When they introduced this packaging in 2007, thin-stick gums were still coming in Plen-T-Pack stack style packaging or the old quarter five-stick packs. Since then, Wrigley’s moved its other stick style gums to a package that’s almost exactly the same as the 5 packaging, albeit at a cost reduced printing method. Extra (and its new variants, the Fruit Sensations), Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Spearmint, and Big Red have all moved on to the three rows by five columns fifteen stick cardboard package (Wrigley’s dubs it the Slim Pack).
5 still has more elaborate printing processes than these other gums, though, which are basically white card stock with four color process printing and a clear plastic wrap. 5’s cellophane wrap has printing on it, mimicking what is on the cardboard and has “boring” stuff, designwise, like nutrition info and ingredients printed on it. Removing the cellophane, you’re left with a matte black package, where the only splashes of color are on the right side of the front. Unlike the other colors, they’re using some neat overprinting on top of a metallic silver to produce the wintery effect. Nice, but spendy. There’s lots of embossing, spot gloss varnishes, and sparse use of color all around. The package opens up on the back via the use of a tab that slides into a die cut hole. The closing is secure, but you need two hands to open the package.
Inside, you’re treated to more matte black printing and stick wrap that has the 5 logo embossed into the wrap. Removing the first stick from any of the three columns of gum can be tight, but once that first stick is out the rest come fairly easily.
How does the Solstice flavor actually taste, though? Honestly, it tastes like Winterfresh. There might be some subtle differences, but it’s close enough to me. It seems to have flavor crystals like Zing (which is a unique flavor in itself) but they seem like more of the same (e.g. Icebreakers). Most of the 5 gums taste fairly similar to their standard counterparts – it wouldn’t surprise me if Flare was an offshoot of Big Red, for instance. Like any Wrigley’s stick gum it chews pretty well but the flavor does not seem to last as long as Orbit. It’s pretty standard stuff and if you like stick type gum you won’t really find any surprises.
Solstice gets a 3/5 for having nice packaging but ultimately pedestrian flavor. Given that most of Wrigley’s packaging mimics the 5 packaging nowadays, the non-unique flavors lose a lot of appeal.
Oh, by the way, the next flavor should be named Zazz.