Stay Alert Military Caffeine Energy Gum was developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in conjunction with the Wrigley company as part of ongoing efforts to curb fatigue-related injuries and deaths.
In recent years, the United States military integrated the gum into so-called “First Strike Rations.” The gum was issued to field units on high-intensity combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with other foodstuffs designed to increase vigilance and endurance.
Prior to the gum’s introduction, soldiers who understood the value of caffeine made it a habit to chew on freeze-dried coffee to stay awake during night operations.
Now, the Israeli army is supplying aviators and special operations forces with Stay Alert Military Caffeine Energy Gum to dramatically enhance their ability to cope with fatigue on long missions, the Yediot Aharonot daily reported.
Ever since the Israelis started chewing it a year ago, the gum has been regularly issued to pilots and members of elite units tasked with missions that last more than 48 consecutive hours, according to Yediot.
A standard pack holds five cinnamon-flavoured pieces that contain 100 mg of caffeine each, an amount equivalent to a 4 oz cup of filter-drip coffee. However, the gum’s caffeine is absorbed into the circulatory system five times faster than the caffeine in coffee.
“There are no side effects, except for the disgusting taste. It improves the soldiers’ alertness and their cognitive performance. The pilots are amazed to discover that it simply works,” a senior Israel Air Force officer told Yediot.
While the gum was originally developed for military applications, it has since made its way into the civilian market, and is particularly popular among athletes, clubgoers and people working graveyard shifts.