DISCLAIMER: So I want to rant about gum for a little bit...and marketing. This post has nothing to do with design, code, or anything even remotely spiritual - I think. Also, I have an affiliate account with Amazon to the linked products below.

I suffer from migraine headaches. I have all my life. When I was a kid I used to puke they were so bad. They still get that bad from time to time, but I've discovered in the past few years what my triggers are.

My triggers are mostly nutritional, and then a few other factors like: lack of rest, dramatic changes in weather or barometric pressure, and back related exercise.

The nutritional triggers consist mostly of things that are well known to cause migraines, like caffeine, alcohol, aspartame, MSG, etc. - but also several seldom-known items like: bananas, aged cheese, fresh baked break (on account of the yeast), citrus fruit, lunch meat (the nitrates) and a crapton of other things.

One particular trigger, aspartame, is a pretty devious one. Let me tell you why: Turns out aspartame is present in every gum on the market in most grocery stores, or anywhere there is gum - INCLUDING in sugar based gums.

Here's why that is so insidious...

Aspartame is generally considered an artificial sweetener, and used as such in food products that are marketed as "Sugar Free". It was approved by the FDA in 1974, and has some level of controversy surrounding it's use on account of side effects such as migraines, which I happen get from it.

One of those places that you'll find Aspartame as a sugar-substitute is in "Sugar Free" gum. In fact, in EVERY sugar free gum, it turns out. Since Dentists don't want their patients eating gum with lots of sugar, on account of the tooth decay it causes, Aspartame is a nice alternative - or so the nice people in the gum marketing departments say.

Likewise, when you're doctor wants you to avoid sugar on account of the health detriment of a diet that is high in sugar, Aspartame is there for you, buddy. Or again, that's the way the marketing folks want you to think.

Well, sadly this guy can't partake in the wonder chemical sweetener known as "C14 H18 N2 O5" (in molecular-formula syntax that is). So what's a brother to do?

Well, chew regular old sugar gum, of course!

Wrong. There's aspartame in that too.

Really? Yes. Why??! I don't know.

Well, what about that Trident gum sweetened with "Xylitol"? Isn't that supposed to be a sweetener alternative that Dentists approve of?

Well yes it is, actually! Good idea!

...except the part where Trident uses Xylitol as a healthy alternative (or whatever marketing crap language they actually use) because if you read the fine print, the gum still has Aspartame in it! Yes, really. A couple headaches later, I was just as shocked to read that on the ingredients label.

So it turns out that packaging is really just marketing after all! Who'd a thunk?? </sarcasm>

So I was pretty peeved that in every gum in stores that I checked (and I checked EVERY gum at several stores) there was Aspartame present. Including sugar-free gum, xylitol sweetened gum, and regular old sugar sweetened gum!

Seriously. What's a brother to do?

Enter Google to the rescue...and Glee Gum

After searching high and low, and then Google, I found Glee Gum. It's specifically made and marketed as an aspartame free gum. With that in mind, it's very much a niche food product, so it probably doesn't have a big product budget. And that definitely shows through in a couple areas.

But for what I need a gum to be, it hits the mark perfectly. I don't need fancy packaging or a sexy brand image from my gum. I don't even need cool flavors and wild colors. All I need is a gum that tastes good, is easily chewable, and won't give me a headache. Simple enough, right?

Glee gum has like two flavors I think. It has very basic un-impressive packaging, and quite honestly a really dorky character mascot on the package. It looses it's flavor in probably half or a third of the time of some other gums I've chewed. And you honestly really need two pieces to make it worth your while, since it's about the size and consistency of Chiclets.

But honestly I don't need more than that. I chew gum for two reasons:

  1. After eating to aid my digestive process
  2. and to occupy my mouth while I'm working so I'm not tempted to snack on empty calories.

For these purposes, Glee Gum is just fine. In fact, really swell actually. I highly recommend it.