I am basically a chewing gum addict. I chew gum whenever I'm not eating, sleeping, or in school (sadly its not allowed in Hong Kong). I love gum.

But, there are some important differences worth noting in the 'gum culture' of Hong Kong versus the USA. First of all, gum in Hong Kong tends to be all sugar-free. Xylitol is the universal fake-sweetener used here. Its supposed to be much healthier than other artificial sugars and definitely easier on the teeth than sugar itself. In the US, I've never really seen xylitol gum, or at least its not advertized like it is in HK, with Xylitol being the biggest word on the packaging after the brand. Another thing is that in Hong Kong, gum is commonly sold in little metallic pouches, thankfully resealable with a zip-lock style closing device, with about 20 pellets of gum inside. Sticks of gum are kind of unusual and can be hard to find if you don't know where to look. And the Orbit gum 'tabs' I love so much in the USA are not to be found at all :(. Gumballs are available occasionally in those novelty machines where you put a coin in and it slides down to you, but I really hate gumballs so I've never been tempted. I would say I definitely prefer sticks or tabs, but the pellets are alright and now I'm kind of used to them. The texture is less 'gummy' though, and I usually need at least 2 at a time to get the full effect of the flavor...

Gum here still comes from some of the same brands as back home though. Wrigleys and its offbrands (Extra, Airwaves etc) are the most common still. But the other brands we have in the USA like Double Bubble, Hubba Bubba, Orbit, Bubble Tape, Big League Chew, and some of the 'Dental Hygiene' wannabe products are not to be found anywhere. Only one brand is here that I've never seen before: Colfresh. It claims to be Italian, but the nutritional information is oddly in Greek, Arabic, French, and then English. I've only seen it in the International supermarkets though, not the normal shops. Generally speaking the selection doesn't contain many different brands.

But flavors are a different matter. Blackcurrant-Menthol, Melonmint, peachmint, lemongrass-mint, blueberry, persimmon-vitaminized gum(bought that one in the mainland), blackberry-canteloupe, lemon-pear, and strawberry, are just a few of the delightful selection of fruity/minty/cinnamonny products available. It is a great pleasure of mine to go to the larger supermarkets and take my time browsing through all the options, choosing carefully, and eventually sampling my selections. I generally make a pilgrimage every few days to a 7-11, OK (another common convenience store in HK), or a supermarket to buy myself a pouch because the 20ish pellets don't last very long... my daily consumption is probably somewhere about 4-6 pieces.

But, last Wednesday, I decided the time had come for a large purchase; making frequent pitstops at 7-11's is time-consuming and annoying. I had run out of gum (a dire emergency!) so after school I sped off on my bike to the Park-n-Shop (a supermarket) in Sheung Shui and went shopping! I gleefully made my selections and paid 50HKD total (6.5USD) for the items pictured below. WOOHOO!

In order: Extra Strawberry (a big bag meant to refill that plastic barrel shown in the picture, of course I have one!), Wrigley's Lemongrass Mint (a new flavor for me), Extra Peach Mint, Airwaves Blackcurrant, and some classic Wrigley's Double Mint sticks. The number of 'pieces of gum' is 124 pellets + 25 sticks making for a nice total of 149 pieces!!! It makes me so happy I don't know what to say... Anyway, since that lovely purchase, I've of course tried all the flavors and they are all great. I have to say lemongrass-mint and blackcurrant are my favorites, but the peach-mint is also spectacular and the sticks are the best textured. Strawberry is my everyday gum (a bit cheaper, bought in bulk), the others are for 'special occasions'... like whenever I feel like them. Really I just choose whatever looks best at the moment... I'm never let down; its all delicious!

Life is good!


Of course, while writing this I've been happily chewing my way through a piece of Strawberry :)

(Yay, pictures on my blog finally)

Comments (4)

On February 1, 2010 at 10:27 AM , Priscila said...

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On February 2, 2010 at 1:48 AM , Lee said...

Hi Ben, This is your best post yet. Interesting, funny, charming. And just think that I didn't even know you liked gum or were event allowed to chew it when you were younger. All my best. Lee

On February 2, 2010 at 9:46 AM , Kim said...

To see the world in a stick of gum...

On March 22, 2012 at 2:19 AM , Unknown said...

As someone in HK who has tried to quit smoking by chewing massive quantities of this gum, I should point out that large does of Xylitol almost always result in horrible cramping and farting.

...and knowing is half the battle.