Gone are the days when chewing gum was just about giving your teeth something to do. Nowadays consumers are looking for the same things from their gum as they do from other foods: health, beauty, added value – in short, functionality. Manufacturers, meanwhile, have succeeded in blurring the boundaries between chewing gum and more traditional oral care products like toothpaste, usually by means of brand extensions.

Perhaps the first chewing gum brand to promise a specific function (beyond fresh breath) was Airwaves from Wrigley, formulated with menthol and eucalyptus, until then found mainly in lozenges. Despite its resounding success, Airwaves would have to wait around two years for a competitor in the shape of Stimorol’s Air Rush. Since then a huge number of functional gums has come onto the market: Sportlife gum in the Netherlands with guaraná, spirulina and taurine; Joyco‘s Licor del Polo Vitaminas (Spain) with added vitamins and calcium; Stimorol’s Pro*Z, said to defeat even garlic odours in the breath; and Stimorol Energy, formulated with guaraná and dextrose, to name but a few.

Toothpaste manufacturers like SmithKline Beecham and Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight) have spotted the potential of gums bearing the names of trusted toothpastes such as Signal, Mentadent and Aquafresh. The resulting gums, presented in practical flip-top boxes, offer the consumer the convenience and reassurance of ‘brush-style’ dental hygiene away from home, while the companies benefit from incremental sales of their brands.

Consumers seeking the appearance of well-kept teeth are also well served: Ice White from Wrigley and Trident Advantage from Adams both promise whiter teeth, while the latter even claims to replenish lost minerals such as calcium.

For these and other functional chewing gums, see the Datamonitor‘s new product tracking database, Worldwide Innovations Network at http://win.datamonitor.com