WRIGLEY'S Extra Thin Ice
em Feature

How much further can you really take Gum? It’s a tough one to think about, and a question that’s clearly been tormenting the brains of the Wrigley’s R&D department for quite some time. “Lets see now, we’ve got Peppermint, Spearmint…shit, shit, SHIT! Why didn’t we see this coming!?”

Of course they’ve invented other flavours to show that there’s more to mint than peppers and spears – ‘Winterfresh’ for example, and then Airwaves, probably one of the better ideas, incorporating the magic of menthol to clear those stuffy winter blockages. And with enough chewing, doubling up as a handy sedative. Chew, chew, chew…now go operate some heavy machinery.

But now several years later, and I’m sure many a battle with the people over at Halls and Tunes, they’re found themselves, once again, in a rut. And just like most other companies out there, Wrigley’s found that they needed to tap into youth culture, the act of ‘chewing to look cool’ and the sedative effect just wasn’t enough.

Sony managed this pretty well in the late-mid nineties with PlayStation. Remember those console pods turning up in clubs? Up until then gaming had been pretty much just for kids – now it had a cool chic that appealed to the twenty-something’s. Not only did they tap into club culture, but also - although ultimately part of the same scene – drug culture too, not just through the music and club kudos it associated itself with, but with the perforated postcards which were, by remarkable coincidence, just the right size for roaches, and the metal cocaine cutting business cards.

Now I’m sure Wrigley’s never thought they could gain credibility with the same crowd here. After all, the answer “We’re going back to mine for a bit of Wipeout on the PlayStation” is a socially respectable answer to the question “So what are you guys up to after the club?”, but “We’re going back to mine to ‘do’ some Juicy Fruit” could lose you friends at the drop of a hat. And then get your hat stolen too.

And wee’d on.

Perhaps I’m being a bit over the top here, but I’m just trying to understand why Wrigley’s have made ‘Thin Ice’ and the influences behind it; because essentially, it’s the minty equivalent of doing acid.

Now I just want to go on record as saying that I don’t do drugs, nor have I ever – and anyone that knows me personally will back me up on that one – but I am aware of what goes on, and so, apparently, are Wrigley’s.

‘Extra: Thin Ice’ is a strange sort of mint. You may have seen the adverts by now, and it is quite certainly a gimmick, which is fine by me – I love gimmicks. They will almost certainly be mentioned in an ‘I love…” program in about 20 years time. For the most of us we’ll watch and reminisce with that warm, fuzzy feeling about how funny mints were in 2003, but Wrigley’s on the other hand will no doubt be crying into their robotic hands.

It’s hard to describe, but each pack contains 24‘sheets’. These little blue sheets are fairly plasticy, and when placed in the palm of the hand start to curl like those Chinese fortune-telling fish. You place a sheet onto your tongue and let it slowly dissolve into a strange slippery gel-like substance – leaving you not only with minty fresh breath, but an odd sort of rectangular blue tongue-tattoo for a few moments.

Whether any of this gets absorbed into your system is anyone’s guess. There don’t appear to be any warnings on the packet about taking more than one either – maybe it’ll turn up on Fear Factor sometime in the next series.

So why have Wrigley’s taken this wacky, hallucinogen influenced route? Have you noticed how you don’t see mini extra-strong mints anymore? Or Polo centres? I’m guessing the containers were the perfect device for carrying pills into clubs – so maybe they were stopped. “But!” said Wrigley’s “how about we make a device for smuggling in acid? That’ll get us in with the club crowd” and so Thin Ice was born.

Alright maybe not – but it might have happened like that. Either way, someone was whacked out on magic monkey juice when they came up with this one. It was ‘deadline for a new idea’ time at Wrigley’s that month and this is the curiosity they came up with. And you just know that, rushed for time, the prototype was a sheet of rice paper that had been smeared with toothpaste or marinated in mouthwash.

Despite my local shop selling out of them in a couple of days I’m not sure it’s going to catch on. At 85p a pack they certainly don’t last long. Nor do you feel very satisfied after having one. Plus I got some very odd looks on the tube taking one the other day. “Stay away from that guy, he’s doing some minty acid right in the middle of the train!”, or more realistically “Stay away from that guy, he’s actually gone out and bought some Wrigley’s Extra Thin Ice!”

david twomey

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