Infantry: Special Gum For Staying Awake


October 10, 2005: The U.S. Army is changing the way they provide caffeine-laced "Stay Alert" gum to the troops, moving out of the civilian/traditional stick form and foil packaging into a more sturdy candy-coated "pellet" form in a tougher metal foil package like an MRE. "Stay Alert" gum is packed into the Army's "First Strike" ration, a compact and lighter-weight version of the traditional MRE designed to be carried along for the first 72 hours of combat operations.

Extensive use of the cinnamon-flavored "Stay Alert" caffeine stick gum - made exclusively for the military by Wrigley's -- in hotter climates, found that the civilian-style gum package would get shoved into a pocket and end up turning into a hard-to-chew foil ball after a long march in the heat. The candy-coated pellet size stands up better to heat and covers up the bitter taste of caffeine while the metal foil package is tougher and withstands more physical abuse.

Gum is a more easily used and palatable alternative to taking in caffeine (and staying awake) on the move than the usual alternative of taking a MRE packet of freeze-dried coffee and pouring the powder between cheek and gum or putting Tabasco sauce under the eyelids. - Doug Mohney




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