In Praise of Foreign Gum


Barb returned from another trip to Japan last weekend, and she brought back something wondrous for me:

BlackBlack Chewing Gum.

Now, if you’re like me (and I know I am), you’ll be asking, “What’s so wondrous about BlackBlack Chewing Gum? Does it have a unique, delicious flavor? Does that flavor last a long, long time? Do the packages contain decoder rings that enable one to discover Jessica Alba’s phone number hidden within the text of her Wikipedia entry?”

The answer to all of the above is “No, who needs that stuff? If I want a unique, delicious flavor, I’ll eat a nectarine. [Rory: A nectarine is a kind of fruit.] If I want flavor that lasts a long, long time, I’ll consume a clove of garlic. And if I want Jessica Alba’s phone number, I’ll look for it in my kitchen trash, which is where I threw it after hearing that she’s having a baby with another man.”

“So what’s the attraction?” you’ll ask. “If BlackBlack’s flavor isn’t especially unique, delicious, or long-lasting, and it’s no help in stalking starlets, then why all the BlackBlack love?”

One word, my poor, deprived Brainiacs:


BlackBlack tastes just fine, but I’d chew it even if it tasted like (and were made of) recycled road-grader tires. Because it’s loaded with my favorite legal drug: Sweet Mistress Caffeine.

Ah, legal, schmegal. I might as well come clean. Caffeine isn’t just my favorite legal drug. It’s my favorite drug, period. And if it ever becomes illegal, I’ll be buying small party balloons and/or Trojans by the boxcar so I can launch the largest smuggling operation the world has ever seen.

(And I know for a fact that there’ll be no shortage of mules.)

Yes, I’m a stone junkie, and I know it. But I didn’t used to be like this.

Hand to God, I was virtually caffeine-free until I was in my early thirties. That was when Ben & Jerry introduced their “Coffee Heath Bar Crunch” ice cream flavor.

For me, devouring that first pint was like Navin Johnson hearing his first Mantovani record. “If I like this so much,” I thought, scouring the empty cardboard shell with my tongue while hanging upside-down from a streetlight, “how much more might be out there?”

So it began, and so it progressed: Ben & Jerry. Hot cocoa. Milk chocolate. Dark chocolate. Constant Comment. Red Bull. Ovaltine.

And, especially, always and forever, coffee.

I mean, Sweet Merciful Jesus, if You had really loved Your people, You wouldn’t have turned that water into wine. You’d have turned it into a nice, balanced, medium-roast Kona with a shot of Half & Half.

Sadly, I can’t drink coffee all day long. That first morning pot of black gold gets me up and working . . . but if I kept making more as the day progressed, I’d have to move my office to the little room down the hall. You know, the one with all the porcelain.

Now, though – thanks to my lovely spouse, hereafter known to history as The Enabler – I have BlackBlack. So when the afternoon drowsies hit me, I can hit back.

This is in keeping with BlackBlack’s clearly intended purpose: To help its consumers get more work done. The large box of Chiclet-style BlackBlack even comes with a tiny green Post-It-style notepad in a special slot inside, just in case you have to write a memo while digging for your next hit.

In fact, I’ve already scribbled on the first tiny Post-It from my BlackBlack pad and have stuck it on my computer monitor. That way, I’ll be sure to see it every day between now and next March . . . when Barb and I will both be taking another trip to Japan.

The note says:


As if a junkie would ever forget.

12 thoughts on “In Praise of Foreign Gum

  1. they have the stick type gum on amazon. (fairly cheep to) But i don’t know how new it is or how long it had been sitting around. But then again, buying it from the country of orgin is better. it looks kind of sinful. I still have not tried the caffinated beer yet, but want to……

  2. It may be a Good Thing that you weren’t of age in the early Seventies, Brad, when you could get cheap amphetamines just by shuffling up to anybody who looked like me and muttering, “Hey, man, you know where I can get some mollies?” They were black, too, which I am sure is much of the appeal for you.

    Aslo, I already know what nectarines are, thankyouverymuch. They’re like oranges or grapefruits. Only… a different color… Right?

  3. During our Renaiisance Festival my boss (I work for a jeweler) turned me on to Diet Pepsi Max. Caffeine plus ginsing (ZING!)

    For once I was coming home at the end of the day Perky! Perky! Perky! instead of flattened.

  4. When I was a child I would go to school five minutes early every morning so that I could stand out in front of Porto Rico Importing on Bleecker Street (next door to my school) and smell the aroma of roasting coffee. When I first tasted coffee ice cream I thought that hot coffee must taste like that–except hot. So my first taste of unadulterated coffee when I got to college was a rude awakening: so thin! so uncreamy! so unsweet!

    When I went to Morocco I got to drink the local coffee, which was much more what I had imagined coffee would be like: thick, creamy, sweet and aromatic. Also like solid rocket-fuel, caffeine-wise.

    These days…I loves me my coffee, but can only drink a few cups. And I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, which is a proud but lonely thing. The BlackBlack would probably kill me…

  5. One morning’s conversation with Denton:

    “Are you drinking coffee?” asks I.

    There’s a pause as I listen to the sound of slurping and the distinct, unmistakable sigh of an addict getting his fix.

    “Yes,” he says.

    “I can’t believe you’re torturing me with coffee slurping when you know I’m not supposed to be drinking it.”

    More slurping.

    “How much of that stuff are you drinking a day?” I ask, thinking if not to shame him, then to get him to stop that damn slurping and sighing.

    “Just a pot,” he says. “I mean, there are ten cups to a pot, but they’re really small cups. They’re smaller than normal cups.”

    “How many ounces?” I ask.

    “Ounces in what?” he asks, feigning dumbness.

    “The cups.”


    “So, you’re consuming 50 ounces of coffee every day.”

    “Well, if you’re going to be picky about it.”

    Fucking junkies.

    Now where can I buy that stuff again?

  6. Mad,

    Porto Rico–your school was next to Porto Rico?!? I don’t like coffee but I love Porto Rico. If I’m in New York, I’m always trying to think who I might be able to buy coffee for.

    I guess now I can buy it for Denton.

    (It only coffee tasted like it smells.)

  7. hi, just stumbled across your little piece here.
    i realize it is 2 years later. but, I have moved to china, and have seen this gum everywhere, I am glad to know what it is now and will be picking up a pack today. If your ever interested in pickin up a carton or a box full let me know. lol, I can send one back to you. maybe even a trade of some sorts, you send me xbox games, i send you coffee gum 😀 (cant buy real games here)

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