Soon we will be able to say “I need a jolt of energy, by gum,” and have it be true rather than just some archaic exclamation.
This month, Wrigley is rolling out Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, with each piece containing 40 milligrams of caffeine. That’s about the same “kick” as a 12-ounce can of Diet Coke or half a cup of coffee.
The gum, which Wrigley spokeswoman Caroline M. Sherman said will be in local convenience, food and drugstores by summer, joins an increasingly crowded field of caffeine-loaded beverages. The package includes the warning label “not recommended for children or persons sensitive to caffeine.”
But, well, it’s gum, and the youngest among us are particularly enamored of gum. That’s a concern for Dr. Julia Joseph-Di Caprio, chief of pediatrics at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
“A child, even an adolescent, is still developing, and we don’t know the effects [of caffeine] on the cardiovascular system,” she said. “The other piece is that caffeine is addictive. That’s really harmful to children and teens, to develop a dependency.”
Wrigley calls the product “an ‘on-me’ energy solution that gives consumers the power to control how much caffeine they get.” Joseph-Di Caprio says the “how much” should be “none.”
“Until people are 18, no caffeine,” she said. “And for sure when under the age of 12, they absolutely shouldn’t have any of this [caffeinated] stuff. The bottom line is most of us, all of us, really, but particularly children and pre-adolescents, we don’t need this.”
Even for late-night studies or other work? “My advice is, if you’re tired, go to bed,” she said.
Sage advice, by gum. □