When I was at the dentist last week, the hygienist asked whether I wanted chocolate mint polish.
Chocolate mint polish? I'm at the dentist; I haven't just finished a filling meal. No, I don't want chocolate mint polish. Are you crazy?
I politely declined with an "ick" sound.
Eventually, though, it did lead us to the subject of Extra Dessert Delights gum when the hygienist recommended I chew a piece of sugar-free gum now and then to help with build-up. (I didn't brush quite as well as I thought I did the past six months.) Remembering my distaste for chocolate mint polish, she said she recently had tried Extra Dessert Delights gum and had liked it. I said the the idea seemed gross to me. Dessert and gum, together? Let's just pair up appetizers and cough drops while we're at it.
After getting home, though, I realized I might have been too hasty in my gum bigotry. Who am I judge what is and is not gum? Did I not chew FruitStripe gum as a child? Was I not taken in by the allure of Bubble Tape, even though I'm now classified as a "them" rather than a "you"?
So, the next time I was at the grocery store, I picked up a pack of Apple Pie gum and Strawberry Shortcake gum. (There also is Orange Creme Pop, Key Lime Pie and Mint Chocolate Chip. I wasn't going to buy all five, though. I didn't want the cashier to think I was nuts.)
As I prepared to pop the first piece in my mouth, though, I had a disturbing vision of Violet Beuaregarde and her fate in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." The girl chewed gum constantly and was turned into a giant blueberry after getting to the dessert portion of a piece of gum from the factory. It was a disturbing image. I have no desire to turn into a piece of apple pie or strawberry shortcake. I'm fairly sure that would be grounds for divorce.
Knowing that I was taking a big risk, I went ahead and tried the Apple Pie gum. It tasted like, well, apple pie. For all of about 20 seconds. Then it tasted like bland gum and I spat it out. (This is fairly common for me. The second gum loses its flavor, which is quickly for most gums, I no longer have any use for it.) I then repeated the process with the Strawberry Shortcake, which tasted more like a Dairy Queen strawberry sundae than strawberry shortcake, but I imagine it has to be near impossible to really replicate shortcake in gum form.
The gum tasted fine while it lasted, though, which was more than I expected. Who knows? Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised with the chocolate mint polish the next time I visit the dentist. As long as it doesn't turn me into a chocolate mint, that is.
• Joe Grace is a writer who lives in Chicago with his wife. He prefers his desserts in swallowable form. Yes, swallowable is a made-up word. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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