The startup from Córdoba is marketing a range of gums that offer hangover cures, energy boosts, stress reducers and “more pleasurable, long-lasting” sexy time.
Co-founder Jose Luis Rojano told The Local that he and business partner Jordi Claramonte came up with the idea after a trip to Los Angeles four years ago when he met his cousin’s now husband, a pilot.
He described to them how the American armed forces use caffeinated gum on missions because it works faster than ingesting the caffeine.
Because the gum is chewed for a long time and not swallowed, the caffeine is absorbed through the mouth more rapidly than having to go through the digestive system.
“That made us want to look into what other functions gum could have,” Rojano told The Local.
WUG says that their gum starts to take effect within five minutes of chewing, compared to up to 40 minutes when an active ingredient is digested.
They started by testing out caffeinated gum, but found that the taste was very unpleasant.
“The first ones were really bad so we had to improve it until it had a very nice flavour,” Rojano said, adding that now most gums use Stevia, a plant-based sugar substitute, and taste like menthol or even pineapple.
Caffeinated gums like those used in the military have been on the market for some years, including one produced by Wrigley, though the American company halted their own production due to health concerns in 2013.
Rojano said that one piece of their caffeine gum is about the same as a can of Coca-Cola, and a package of 15 pieces would be more than a large Starbucks coffee, so the packages recommend not consuming the whole lot in one go.
Since 2014, WUG has expanded to more than half a dozen varieties in 7,000 pharmacies across Spain, including gums that help with your diet, help you to tan, and a new one just announced to help with arthritis.
Though the gums are sold in pharmacies, they are not medicines and instead contain various vitamins.
The one that tackles hangovers, for example, contains guarana, vitamins B6, B12 and C, as well as lycopene – all thought to help in the hangover recovery process, though there is no scientifically proven cure for a hangover other than sleep, hydration and time.
Vigor and Passion – the gums used for spicing up your sex life – use muira puama, damiana and Andean maca, which has been grown mainly in Peru for centuries and was consumed by Incas for its effects on stamina and aphrodisiac qualities.
Photo: WUG Functional Gum
Rojano said that most consumers of the sex-drive-boosting gums are women.
“There are many products aimed at men in this area, but not very many for women,” said Rojano.
“And women have many more sensitive places than men.”
The gums are also sold in Italy, Portugal and Greece, but the company is looking to expand into Latin America and perhaps other parts of Europe.
“The gums contain far less calories, don’t need water, are very fast and easy to use,” Rojano said. “If you’re in your bed, it’s much more comfortable to chew a piece of gum for five minutes to relax, or if you’re on the beach and want to tan.
“It’s a new concept, we have a lot of fans and we are sure that it will go far.”