Skip to main content

Wrigley's Caffeinated Gum: A Bad Idea?

Was America ready for another caffeinated substance - gum? (Image credit: <a href=""> StockLite</a> | <a href=""></a>)

Most caffeine junkies get their fix from a strong cup of coffee — but Wrigley's was out to change that.

The chewing gum behemoth recently launched a new brand of gum, Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, which contains 40 milligrams of caffeine per piece.

But today (May 9), Wrigley's announced it was pulling the gum from shelves after the Food and Drug Administration expressed concerns over the levels of caffeine found in some foods, especially those foods marketed to children, NPR reports.

"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply," Wrigley's president Casey Keller said in a news statement.

Indeed, gum isn't the only food laced with surprisingly high levels of caffeine: One Wired Waffle contains more caffeine (200 mg) than a cup of Panera coffee (189 mg), according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans (50 mg per ounce), Cracker Jack'D (35 mg per ounce) and Perky Jerky (150 mg per ounce) also contain significant amounts of caffeine.

Wrigley's decision to stop marketing its Alert gum wasn't greeted with enthusiasm by everyone: "[T]he nannies and the nancy men of the federal government want to take away our caffeine," according to an op-ed piece in the Washington Times.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 2011 that "caffeine … has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems."

It's unclear whether Wrigley's move will curb Americans' love of trendy caffeinated products, which appears to be unstoppable. Sales of specialty coffees, for example, rose from about 37 percent of total coffee sales in 2011 to 46 percent in 2012, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on

Marc Lallanilla
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at and a producer with His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.