Chew On This———2003’s Weird, Wild and Not-So-Wonderful “G.I. Joe Gum Bitz” From Cap Candy

Mmm, Mmm, NOT Good! One of Hasbro's most lamentable offerings for GIjOE fans and collectors was its "GIjOE Gum Bitz" which was purported to be bubble gum packaged in your choice of green, gray or tan mini-canteens. What was actually inside the clip-on containers remains to  determined by our team of scientists. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mmm, Mmm, NOT Good! One of Hasbro’s most lamentable extensions for GIjOE fans and collectors was Cap Candy’s “GIjOE Gum Bitz” which were purported to be pieces of bubble gum packaged in a choice of green, gray or tan mini-canteens. What was actually inside remains to determined. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The best feature of this awful product was that each kid-sized canteen had a functional clip on the back to attach to your belt. Just imagine little Johnny running around in 2003 with this strapped to his side, feeding his every desire for—whatever this stuff was. On second thought, DON'T think about that. And we strongly recommend that you do NOT use these canteens to hold ANY type of liquid. ICK! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Clip it on! The best feature of this (awful) product was that each kid-sized canteen container had a functional clip on the back to attach to a belt or pocket. Just imagine little Johnny running around in 2003 with this strapped to his side, feeding his every desire for whatever this terrible-tasting stuff is/was (poor kid). On second thought, DON’T think such sad thoughts. Remember instead, PLEASE… to NEVER use these canteens to hold ANY type of consumable liquids. ICK! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Maybe the Headline of This Article Should Read: “DON’T Chew on This,” Or Perhaps… “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About One of Hasbro’s Worst Product Ideas”

Recently, we ordered an unopened, still-sealed-in-its-original-cello, 12-pack carton of GIjOE “Gum Bitz” to see for ourselves what all the non-discussion about this long maligned (and best forgotten) product was all about. Oh, man…(shaking our heads now)…We should’ve left our money in our company’s Paypal account and Hasbro should’ve left this so-called “bubble gum” sitting on the shipping dock when it returned from its trip to parts-unknown in China. It is—completely and absolutely—DREADFUL.

Of course, you can’t say we weren’t warned. The description on the product’s ebay auction listing (HERE) was very clear about what we should expect, even declaring boldly in all caps:

“WARNING!!!!!!
COLLECTORS ITEM ONLY!!!
DO NOT EAT THE GUM SOLDIERS INSIDE THE CANTEEN. THEY WERE MADE IN 2003 AND ARE AS HARD AS ROCKS. I TRIED ONE AND ALMOST BROKE A TOOOTH !!!” —MJ Variety Wholesaler

Our favorite part of this description is the author’s use of an additional “O” in “TOOOTH.” For some reason, that unnecessary vowel seems appropriate for an equally unnecessary product that probably never should have been released in the first place. In our opinion, even at its best, this has to be one of the worst looking and poorest tasting “bubble gums” we’ve EVER encountered (and our memories go all the way back to the flavorless bubble gum card packs of the 1960s).

How's THAT for unappetizing? Once you pop the top of your canteen, you see THIS bag full of...well, those are supposed to be soldiers. Regardless, first impressions are strong. This doesn't look like something a kid would want to put in his mouth. Sort of reminds us of dehydrated broccoli! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How’s THIS for unappetizing? Pop the top of a canteen and you see this bag full of…well, those are supposed to be “soldiers” (you can probably still hear the outrage from the U.S. Army echoing in the Pentagon’s halls). Regardless, first impressions are STRONGLY negative. You have to wonder what—if ANY—consumer focus group testing was done on this horrendous tub of CRAP. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

After 12 years in a warehouse, what MAY have once been bubble-gum has become a potentially lethal osmotic mix of dozens of chemicals. How about a side of plastic and silica gel with your gum? BARF!  (Photo: Mark Otnes)

After 12 years in a warehouse, what may have (once upon a time) been bubble-gum, has now devolved into a potentially lethal mix of unknown chemicals. That warning on the included pack of silica gel? It should now be applied to the contents of every canteen. Do not eat or chew this! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Before we’d received our test box of this dental-destroying confection, staff expectations here at The Joe Report were further lowered when our crack research department announced they’d discovered an official GIjOE Gum Bitz communiqué between Hasbro and the U.S. Customs Department. Ostensibly, the purpose of the document was to establish a legal “tariff classification ruling” for the new product, but it also contained a surprising description of the gum’s circuitous journey from the U.S.—all the way to China—and then back again, making the palatable prospects for GIjOE’s Gum Bitz even less likely. According to the company’s (now declassified) document (edited for length):

malecomment

“NY J87838

August 13, 2003 CLA-2-95:RR:NC:SP:225 J87838 CATEGORY: Classification
TARIFF NO.: 1704.10.0000; 9503.90.0080 Ms. Linda D. Santos Hasbro, Inc.

1027 Newport Ave. P.O. Box 1059 Pawtucket, RI 02862-1059

RE: The tariff classification of chewing gum pieces made in the United States and packed in a plastic toy canteen from China.

Dear Ms. Santos:

In your letter dated July 31, 2003, you requested a tariff classification ruling. You submitted a sample of a “GI Joe Gum Bitz” identified as item number 11624. The item consists of a plastic toy canteen that measures approximately 3-1/2 inches in height x 1 inch in thickness x 2 inches in length. The canteen has a clip for hanging on a belt. The canteen is comprised of two halves and when the top half is removed a plastic packet of green chewing gum pieces is contained in the lower half. You state in your letter that the gum pieces are made in the United States and packed in the canteen in China and then returned to the United States. You also state in your letter that the intended use of the canteen is as a toy by a child three years of age and older playing the part of a soldier. This office concurs that the canteen is a toy, as a child would continue to derive amusement by playing with the canteen long after the contents were gone.”

Globs of Green Guys— This is what you get in every canteen; approximately 18 pieces of...well, we'll let you decide what to call them. If you look closely, you see that this canteen yielded 3 "MPs," 10 "walking soldiers," and 5 "kneeling flamethrower" soldiers. Of course, you couldn't PAY us to put them in our mouths. We'd like to live to report another day. HA! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Globby Green Guys— This is what you’ll get in each canteen; approximately 18 pieces of…well, we’ll let you decide what to call them. If you study this closeup carefully, you’ll see that this particular canteen yielded 3 MP soldiers, 10 marching soldiers, and 5 kneeling flamethrower guys. Of course, you couldn’t PAY us to put any of them in our mouths. We’d prefer to live another day. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As this closeup of the canteen reveals, the detail is actually not too bad. We like the blind-embossed logo, but would've appreciated a real cap and chain instead of the molded, non-functional version. As for the label, it would've been MUCH better if the GIjOE logo was MUCH bigger. 'Nuff said! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Hits and Misses—As this closeup of an unwrapped canteen reveals, its details are actually not too bad. We like the blind-embossed logo, but would’ve appreciated a real cap and chain instead of the molded, non-functional version. As for the label, it would’ve been MUCH better if the vintage GIjOE logo was MUCH larger. ‘Nuff said! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Okay, let’s pause here and consider what the U.S. Customs Department has officially confirmed and determined so far. These (so-called) “green chewing gum pieces” were made here in the U.S. Apparently, to save a buck, they were then shipped all the way to China to be put into miniature plastic canteens, etc., before being shipped all the way back. Our favorite line is where the USCD “concurs” that “a child would continue to derive amusement by playing with the canteen LONG (our emphasis) after the contents were gone.” Oh really? We’re sort of on the fence about that assumption, but the canteen does clip nicely onto your pants as advertised; so we’ll give Hasbro credit for that much. Next, the letter goes on to determine how GIjOE Gum Bitz should be officially classified for tariff purposes, saying:

malecomment

“Although packaged together as a set, the item is not a set for Customs’ purposes. Components of the ‘GI Joe Gum Bitz’ when combined, do not address one particular need or activity. The consumption of candy and playing with toys are two separate and distinct activities. Therefore, each item in the retail package is separately classifiable.​ The rate of duty will be 4%.”

All wrapped up with no place to go—This 12-pack of GIjOE Gum Bitz, complete with a packet of Silica Gel is shown as you receive it (and best left)—unopened. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

All wrapped up with no place to go—This 12-pack of GIjOE Gum Bitz, complete with a packet of Silica Gel is shown as you’ll receive it (and best leave it)—unopened. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

4 percent? Good enough. That’s all Hasbro’s legal and accounting department gurus really ​​wanted to know, anyhow. But interestingly, the Custom’s letter went on to confirm one final detail:

malecomment

“Based on the information provided by your office, the gum pieces will not be advanced in value or improved in condition by the operations performed abroad.” 

The one redeeming feature of GIjOE Gum Bitz is that it DOES clip on to your belt or pants pocket, reminding us of our childhood days when clipping such things on made us feel special and ready for a "mission" in the great outdoors. OOHrah! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The one redeeming feature of GIjOE Gum Bitz is that the canteen DOES clip on to your belt or pants pocket. That reminds us of our childhood days when clipping things on made us feel special and ready to tackle a “mission” in the great outdoors. OOHrah! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It’s indeed safe to say that these little green pellets of pestilence were not “advanced in value or improved in condition” in ANY way by their journeys across the Pacific. In fact, we’d like to take this opportunity to add our own “unofficial” assessment to the official USCD findings. We believe that this so-called “gum” should now be reclassified as “non-consumable miniature blocks of inert matter.” (Psst! Hey, Gordon! How’s that for legalese?)

Daring to Go Where No Joe Fans Have Gone—in 12 Years!

Clearly, we couldn’t have written about this largely forgotten and much maligned product if we hadn’t actually tried it for ourselves. And so, after saying a short prayer, we passed a freshly opened canteen around the conference table and popped about three soldiers each into our mouths (yes, we HAD to). Much to our chagrin, we quickly discovered that the pursuit of journalistic and investigative excellence can sometimes be a painful and distasteful process. Yet, somehow we survived, and now we can reliably report that GIjOE Gum Bitz are indeed, as the rep at MJ Variety Wholesaler had warned us, “HARD AS ROCKS.” And while they do eventually soften in your mouth, instead of merging into a wad of chewing gum, they simply crumble into unchewable and indigestible bits of green chemical “crud.” (Imagine the loathsome sight when you spit them out.) As to flavor, the best description we could come up with was they tasted something like VERY stale bubble gum mixed with a mouthful of cardboard and plastic. It was absolutely the most flavorless trash imaginable. In fact, it tasted like we were eating trash!

The side panel view of a 12-pack of GIjOE Gum Bitz. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

ZERO Shelf Appeal? The side panel view of a 12-pack of GIjOE Gum Bitz. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The end panel of the box features a slightly larger vintage logo. That, and the clip on the canteen are about the only things we liked about this poorly executed GIjOE brand extension. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The end panel of a GIjOE Gum Bitz box features a slightly larger vintage GIjOE logo (proportionally). MUCH BETTER! That visual improvement, and the clip on the backs of the canteens are the only things we liked about this poorly executed GIjOE brand product extension. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Ohhh...Joe's feeling a little woozy and green himself, after trying a piece of that 12-year old gum. No Mas! No Mas! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Ohhh…Joe’s feeling a little woozy and green himself, after trying a piece of that 12-year old gum. No Mas! No Mas! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Osmosis (noun)
[oz-moh-sis, os-]

1) the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a partially permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides.

Bottom Line: Oh, our stomachs… Okay, we gotta wrap this up… We’re starting to feel a tad woozy after that misguided taste-test experiment. Say, does anyone know what happens (chemically) to the ingredients of really bad gum after it sits in a plastic canteen for 12 years? Now we’re suffering from some sort of awful “digestive osmosis” of old gum, plastic, silica gel and cardboard. Even though we spat it all out, it still seems to be dancing a jig on our innards!

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5 thoughts on “Chew On This———2003’s Weird, Wild and Not-So-Wonderful “G.I. Joe Gum Bitz” From Cap Candy

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, I have a sealed 1986 box of G.I. Joe Action Stars cereal that I have no desire to ever taste test. Ever.

  2. Rudy Panucci says:

    So, the blotchy coloring? Was that a deliberate attempt to make the candy coating camo, or was it just mold?

  3. M says:

    I just bought them ’cause I thought the little canteens were adorable. But, as a rule, I don’t shove any gum in my mouth unless it’s sugar-free, and not 13 years past its expiration date. 😉

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