Wacky Snacks: Black Black Hard
Found at: Mitsuwa, Costa Mesa
Maltitol, Guarana and Chrysant & Gingko Extract, Xylitol, Acesulfame K, Aspartame, L-Phenylalanine, Sucralose, Gum Base, Artificial Flavor, Gum Arabic, Caffeine, Cacao & Caramel Color, Nicotinamide.
The name initially piqued my interest. What mysteries hid inside this jet black plastic jar with a title just asking for a "That's what she said" rejoinder? Black Black, it turns out, is a popular brand of caffeinated chewing gum produced in Japan by the Lotte company since 1983, and promoted by Jean Claude Van Damme, of all people, in a series of Japanese commercials. It's gained cult status among American computer programmers and WoW geeks when Wired magazine featured them in 2003. Black Black Hard is the Chiclet version of that gum.
What I found inside was more hilarious than the name of the product. There, in a separate compartment of its own next to the jet black gum tablets was a stack of Post-It notes. What's it for, you ask? Why it's for wrapping up your gum afterwards, of course. How considerate!
As for the flavor: it's intensely mint-y, with a menthol aftertaste that goes up the nostril in tingly fumes. Think of those Listerine breath strips and you get an idea of how potent this gum is. And yes, a check of the ingredients confirm it does contain caffeine, but I haven't eaten enough to feel its effects. Though with deadlines looming this week, I just might save some calories and jettison the Red Bull for some Black Black Hard. If Van Damme or anyone should ever decide to hawk the product here in a commercial, I hope they sign off with "Once you go Black Black, you don't go back back."