Last year I got a box of Razer Respawn, a "mental performance drink mix for gamers" that let me concoct my own energy drinks (for gamers). I subjected myself and some of my coworkers to some completely responsible, completely workplace-appropriate sugar highs. Now the time has come once again to put another Razer product in my mouth: Respawn by 5, a 'gum for gamers' that we are told has been designed to improve focus and mental fortitude.
This sugar-free chewing gum includes B vitamins and green tea extract (which I've heard, probably in commercials, are both good for the brain) and also comes in three flavors: Cool Mint, Pomegranate Watermelon, and Tropical Punch. Being the professional that I am, I decided to give Respawn by 5 a proper chewing to review its flavor, mouthfeel, and, most importantly, whether it could make me a better gamer. I even tried to pair some popular games with the current selection of gum flavors. It's a tough job, but no one said becoming a gamer gum sommelier would be easy.
Step one: Tasting
When tasting gum, you'd think it would be as easy as shoving it in your mouth and chewing. Incorrect. You must be ready to orally receive each flavor. Open your mind to its mouthfeel. Let it tell you its purpose and envision the journey each chew takes you on. I had a glass of whiskey to help clear my palate before sampling each new flavor to make sure none of the flavors were contaminated by the previous stick. Also, this feels like a project that requires whiskey.
Here are the tasting notes of each flavor of Respawn:
Cool Mint: Notes of fresh peppermint. No big surprises here.
Pomegranate Watermelon: Hints of fruits, with an off-brand Kool-aid aftertaste.
Tropical Punch: Aggressively, unapologetically pineapple.
Regardless of flavor, you should note that the gum itself is a weird charcoal-gray color which looks pretty off-putting. Does gum need to be edgelordy? It does not.
You also need to chew 3-4 sticks to blow a decent bubble, which is the best part of chewing gum.
First impressions: I'm not sure what I was expecting, but Respawn by 5 is just gum. Razer is no stranger to the weird world of novelty branded merchandise, so this seems a little tame for its usual wackiness.
Step two: Power ranking
Now for the power ranking of each flavor:
Good: Cool Mint.
Bad: Pomegranate Watermelon, Tropical Punch
Cool Mint is refreshing and tastes like gum should—like an invigorating breeze inside your mouth. The other two flavors taste like chewy fruit juice, a form that feels so wrong I made them tied for last.
Step three: Pairing
Because this is gamer gum, it was not enough to simply taste it and reflect upon its flavor. I carefully analyzed each gum and determined optimal pairings—the ideal games to play while chewing a stick of Respawn. These aren't the games I used to test Respawn's performance-enhancing qualities, but are the games I'd recommend enjoying along with a casual chew.
Cool Mint's icy freshness pairs well with the cold, calculated misery of Frostpunk, along with a Glacier Freeze Gatorade margarita. In a game where a global ice age threatens the last remnants of humanity, the gravity of the awful decisions you make, like enforcing child labor to keep people from freezing to death, doesn't feel too bad chewing on Cool Mint. Try it! Give someone bad news when you're chewing gum, it's not so bad.
Pomegranate Watermelon's fruitiness goes well with a bowl of assorted fruit slices while slicing fruit in Fruit Ninja with a glass of fruit-filled Sangria.
Step four: Gaming with gum
Finally the moment of truth: Could Respawn by 5 turn me into a pro gamer? Would chewing a stick help me "maintain mental focus and reaction time?" My testing was rigorous: I played Call of Duty Warzone without gum, then played Call of Duty Warzone with gum.
The gum did not help.
My mental focus and reaction time didn't see any major improvement in Call of Duty Warzone or a couple of matches of Hearthstone. Though I will give Respawn this: Chewing on something did make late-game Warzone a little less stressful. But that's the benefit of any ol' gum chewing—it tricks my body into thinking that I'm eating, which makes me chill out and relax. If you've ever chewed gum while on an airplane, playing sports, or pretty much anytime you've felt a little anxious, you know the feeling.
There is a real potential negative to gaming with Respawn: If there's one thing that people playing games online hate, it's the sound of people chewing and eating on mic. So much so that one of my Call of Duty teammates threatened to mute me if I didn't stop chewing. Obviously, I kept chomping away because I had important research to do. But if you're not testing Respawn for science, I'd advise against it.
You can pick a pack of your very own premium gamer gum right now on the Razer website for $3 for a 15-stick pack or $28 for a 150-stick pack. I think $28 is too much money for gum, especially considering that you have to order it online and have it shipped. Call me old fashioned, but in my day we went and bought our gum at the checkout counter at the grocery store above rag mags. As someone who actually liked Razer's weird energy drink mix concoction, I'm bummed that Respawn by 5 is just average tasting, overpriced gum. I'm obviously going to finish my three packs, because free gum is still gum. And gum is fine.