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Caffeinated gum was invented and used in the military long before Brad Bruckner came along. The military encouraged staff—especially pilots—to chew the gum to keep their energy up during long missions.
One problem? They complained that the gum tastes bitter.
Bruckner and his partners (also Westchester residents) formed The Pharma Gum Company, calling White Plains home base, and for Brad—who also runs advertising/design agency called Bruckner Design, Inc—it meant many long hours spent working while his wife and three children slept at home.
After several trials and taste tests (and managing not to miss any of his son's baseball games), Bruckner and his team came up with a recipe that improved the taste and worked better.
They called it Java Gum (www.JavaGum.com).
Two years later, the new item is blazing its way across 7-Eleven store shelves, gas stations, and delis all over Westchester County.
Java Gum contains 65 milligrams of caffeine—it can fight drowsiness as effectively as your standard 10-oz cup of coffee—but contains no sugar and is a heck of a lot less calories. They discovered that spearmint and peppermint flavors worked best to cover the bitter taste of caffeine.
"We started by giving stores free 12-pack cases in exchange for placement by the registers, " said Bruckner. "I've been living in Ossining for 9 years. I wanted to try it in the market that I call home. It's rewarding to see Java Gum catching on."
Java Gum's reach extends far past Westchester borders and is quickly growing nationwide. Bruckner has even returned to the gum's roots, approaching the military to carry his better-tasting brand. But he also asserts that the gum is for anyone on the go.
"Today's economy requires many of us to work longer hours and get less sleep which has created the need for to stay awake in critical situations like driving," Bruckner said. "Busy moms, nurses, police officers, construction workers, firefighters… The list goes on and on. This works and it works fast. Up to five times faster than energy drinks or coffee."
While The Pharma Gum Company is trying to steer clear of competing with coffee , Java Gum has the earning potential of popular energy drink brands like Red Bull and Monster.
"We have a proven concept. It works and people like it. It's just a matter of time and getting the word out."