13 July 2011

Tums vs Necco Wafers: A Completely Scientific and Unbiased Comparison, Part 1

Tums are better than Necco Wafers. I'll prove it to you with my following Completely Scientific and Unbiased Comparison© (copyright and study subsidized by GlaxoSmithKline, St.Louis, Missouri, USA), since apparently some of you don't take my word as gospel, as I've asked or commanded you do on multiple occasions. The scientific method used in this study will be at least as rigorous as that employed by creation scientists worldwide. Maybe more so. Probably more so.

For the purposes of this comparison, I've elected to go with the original forms of both products. Tums offers several levels of stronger antacid, as well as an all-mint option, some kind of chocolate crème and a bunch of "smoothie" flavors. Necco Wafers also come in a package of ostensibly chocolate flavors and some "smoothie" flavors as well. Future studies will focus on comparisons of the "smoothie" and "chocolate" flavors. I assume in both cases that "smoothie" means they removed the ground magnesium shards and "chocolate" means "not really like chocolate."

First, I took a picture of the products. For posterity. Here you go, posterity:
Afterward, when I scratched my nails on a blackboard, they left actual chalk marks.
Then, I unpackaged both and sorted them by color/flavor:
Tony Montana's got nothing on me.
Someone's motto is "always be prepared." I think it was Madeline Albright. Or maybe Snoop Dogg. Anyway, in order to "be prepared" and not to contaminate either set of samples, I needed a palate cleanser. This palate cleanser:
I drank most of it back when I was writing my comparison of circus peanuts and giant foam fingers.
I drank one shot before the Tums, a shot between the Tums and the Necco Wafers, and two shots before completing this— I cannot stress this enough— highly scientific and accurate comparison.

I've selected five categories by which to gauge each product on a scale of one to ten Sad Keanus, one being Keanu in Constantine (pretty damn sad) and ten being Keanu in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (pretty great, actually).

QUANTITY OF FLAVORS: Necco Wafers advertise seven flavors. As you may have noticed in the picture, I nearly got only six flavors. In fact, due to the almost imperceptible color difference, I was almost sure I did have only six, and was ready to complain. Tums has only four flavors, but they do have packages with other offerings, like "tropical" fruit instead of just "assorted." I guess that doesn't count as I'm doing this on a package-to-package basis, to keep things scientific and controlled and also to point out that "package-to-package" is a gay joke.

While Necco Wafers technically have more flavors, they don't seem to be bothered with massively disproportionate numbers of individual flavors. Look at all those orange ones! I can't wait to tell you how awful they tasted (SPOILER ALERT: pretty awful). Tums, on the other hand, contains almost even numbers of each flavor. Because of the convenience of those even numbers, creation science dictates that I have to find deeper meaning in it. I'm going to assume it means God wants me to give Tums a good score, so here are the ratings for this section:

Necco Wafers: Six Sad Keanus
Tums: Seven Sad Keanus

QUALITY OF FLAVORS: Like I said, I tried the Tums first. There was a yellow one that tasted like some kind of yellow-colored fruit. The greenish one I think was lime. The red was cherry. By the way, this list is in the order of ascending tastiness. The final flavor, orange, tasted like a creamsicle. I wanted to eat them all, but my roommate advised that it might make me die. All in all, mostly boring flavors, and one good one.

I tried the Necco Wafers next. Allegedly, the yellow ones were lemon, but they tasted an awful lot like yellow Tums. But, they weren't the worst flavor, oh no. That award goes to the orange Necco Wafers. They're the ones I got the most of, if you notice the precarious stack in the photo above. The taste was similar to the yellow ones but with slightly more…I'm going to say "malaise." 

The white ones were cinnamon, because cinnamon is always white and always tastes less like "cinnamon" and more like "plain." As you might guess, the brown ones were touted as "chocolate." They tasted like a Tootsie Roll that's been left in the sun to dry, ground into powder, then reconstituted using talcum powder. As you might not guess, the pink ones were "wintergreen." Never mind that winter is never pink, and neither is green. In fact, the pink/green juxtaposition is why so few people own avocado-colored bathtubs

The only two flavors I liked are the ones I had the fewest of: licorice and clove. I'll go so far as to say that I don't remember these flavors being great, but I like licorice well enough, and this isn't the fake sort from black jelly beans. It's the more natural kind you get with the softer, chewier licorice you can get in New England. You Mainers know what I mean. Clove, the off-white one, was the best of the lot. It's a travesty I got only one and that it was so hard to tell apart from the cinnamon. If Necco Wafers had packaged all clove and licorice, they'd have won this category, no problem. But their crappy flavors out-weighed their good flavors.

Necco Wafers: Three Sad Keanus
Tums: Five Sad Keanus

TEXTURE: This one's easy. Both products are chalky and grainy and terrible. Tums are easier to chew, but I honestly found the crunch of the Necco Wafers mildly satisfying after a while. Either way, nobody's winning here, especially not the consumer.

Necco Wafers: Two Sad Keanus
Tums: One Sad Keanu

PACKAGING: I trust Tums a hell of a lot more than Necco Wafers. Tums has a freshness seal. Necco Wafers has a slightly open roll of the thinnest wax paper capable of surviving printing, packaging and transport. I realize the freshness seal may be nothing more than the calcium-based tablet packaging equivalent of the TSA. Neither makes me any safer; both just inconvenience me under the auspices of safety.

I am legally obligated to inform you that at no time and in no way did the freshness seal of the Tums I purchased, nor indeed any Tums product anywhere, attempt to fondle my junk.

Neither product has especially impressive design on their packaging, so it's a draw their. However, I was able to repackage my Tums based on color, making a soft, chalky rainbow in the bottle. The male-stripper-mesh-shirt thin wax paper of the Necco Wafers tore so horribly that I was forced to eat them all, which is a lot more like a chore than it sounds.

Necco Wafers: One Sad Keanu
Tums: Eight Sad Keanus

INGREDIENTS AND NUTRITION: Necco Wafers are all-natural, even the coloring, which is probably why the colors look horrid and are so difficult to tell apart. Regardless, I think Necco Wafers deserve some credit for being hippie-friendly (they're gluten-free and fat-free, and some are even marked Kosher, apparently depending on which plant they were processed in). Their nutrition facts also give amounts for exactly one roll, which I respect. It's transparent and honest, not like ice cream makers who think I'm going to measure out half a cup of ice cream instead of eating the entire pint and/or half gallon.

Tums have a much lower calorie count, but keep in mind they recommend eating four at a time, at most. I could do the math, but why not just assume that four Necco Wafers are roughly equivalent to Tums in terms of carbohydrate content. So, that's settled.

Tums have the advantage of containing calcium, which certain "scientists" claim is good for you, except that too much of it will probably do bad things to you. Which means that I can indulge my lack of impulse control by eating an entire package of Necco Wafers, but not an entire package of Tums. 

Tums also contain something called "adipic acid," which sounds counter-productive. With all the other "scientific" names on the package, I'm not sure if I should trust their implicit authority and assume that Tums are good for me, or assume some massive, complicated conspiracy behind it on par with God burying dinosaur fossils in faux-ancient layers of sediment just to keep us on our toes. Something fishy's going on, Tums.

Necco Wafers: Seven Sad Keanus
Tums: Four Sad Keanus


Necco Wafers: Nineteen Sad Keanus, Average Three point Eight Sad Keanus
You don't have to remind us that you're "The Original" Nobody is trying to copy you. I can't stress this enough.
Tums: Twenty-five Sad Keanus, Average Five Sad Keanus
Don't let this victory go to your head. You're still dead awful to eat.

ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS: We can all agree that both products are pretty sub-par when it comes to taste and texture. And even though Tums had more Sad Keanus overall, I think it's important to keep in mind the specific uses for each product. Tums are intended to fight heartburn and act as a calcium supplement. Necco Wafers are on a short list of candies you don't really want to get while trick-or-treating, but at least you can down an entire package. That's kind of a gay joke, too, if you want it to be.

At the end of the day, we've got to pick a side, because that's just how false dichotomies work. So, I'm going with the product endorsed by creation science logic: Tums. If you picked Necco Wafers, the Devil gave you that idea and also you're letting the terrorists win.


joescon said...

But Necco wafers do resemble communion hosts. That must have some significance.

DirthNader said...

where's part 2?

Unknown said...

You have to do a retrial! The candy you used in 2011 was not the TRUE original recipe! From Wikipedia:

In 2009, Necco changed the formula for its Necco Wafers. Artificial colors and flavors were eliminated. The candy was made softer through the addition of glycerine. The lime flavor was removed due to difficulties in creating an all-natural green coloring, resulting in a 7-flavor Necco Wafer roll.[2]

According to Jackie Hague, Necco's vice president of marketing, switching to all-natural flavors and colors "would draw young mothers concerned about their children's diet."[4] The new cinnamon flavor is "less like Red Hots", the new lemon, "less like paper candy dots and more like lemon meringue pie filling."[4] The chocolate flavor—previously a vanilla flavor "with a hint of chocolate flavoring"—switches to a more intense all-cocoa flavor.[4] The traditional eighth Necco flavor, lime (green), was dropped in the move to all-natural flavors.[5] In addition, the Necco Chocolate assortment changed from 100% of the standard Necco chocolate wafers into a four-flavor chocolate assortment.

However, the change was not popular with long-time customers. The company received "stacks and stacks of letters and e-mails that said, 'Why did you do this? You ruined it,'" according to vice president of sales Steve Ornell.[2] Less than two years after the change, sales of Necco Wafers had fallen by 35 percent.[2] In response to these concerns, Necco Wafer production switched back to the original formula in the summer of 2011

Unknown said...

If I used the TRUE original recipe, I'd be eating candy that's, at this point, at least five years old. Think it through, Steven. Candy that old isn't going to fare any better. But, if you have some laying around, please don't send it, and don't eat it. I'm very concerned for your well-being, seeing as you have old Necco Wafers everywhere for some reason.

However, if you do have a TRUE Scotsman around, I'll take one of those.

Kate Challis said...

Bahahaha this was a hilarious read. Did you know that Novartis Pharmaceuticals built a research center in the old Necco wafer factory in Cambridge, MA? Coincidence? I think not.