That Gum You Like Is Going to Come Back In Style

Black Jack Beemans Clove gums photo by Joseph D'Agnese

Tod Fisher, the detective in my book The Mesmerist, apparently has a fondness for old-fashioned chewing gum, specifically the three brands now produced by Cadbury Adams. 

From what I understand, these gums aren’t hugely popular today, but they do sell enough for the manufacturers to justify making them in batch quantities every couple of years. 

Clove gum tastes like, well, cloves, the spiky spice you’ve tasted in Christmas wassail concoctions or else in various holiday ham dishes. Black Jack tastes like licorice or, more formally, anise. And Beeman’s tastes like wintergreen, the flavoring in birch beer.

I got hooked on these gums back in the early nineties when, if I’m not mistaken, Black Jack was referenced in the David Lynch’s TV show Twin Peaks. (See the video here.)

Black Jack Beemans Clove gums photo by Joseph D'Agnese

I enjoy them but I don’t find them in stores that often; when I do I buy a handful of packs. Yes, you can order them bulk online, but somehow that feels like defeating the purpose. These are gums that ought to bought from a barrel in a quaint general store, or a modern store that’s ably faking that milieu.

When I was writing The Mesmerist, I gave Fisher an affinity for “nostalgic” gums, since so much of his personality is about squelching things from his past. But the novelty gums quickly worked their way into the plot. At one point, the flavor of Clove gum triggers one of the cop’s sense memories. At another, the gum plays a critical role in an escape.

If you spot them anywhere in the real world, you ought to try them. They’re just plain tasty.

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