Call it the Tiger Woods bump.
A Denver company that produces a line of gum marketed specifically to golfers said sales last weekend were greater than the previous 18 months combined, all because the golf legend was seen chewing away as he roamed Augusta National Golf Club en route to winning the 2019 Masters.
“I don’t think any amount of marketing or ad spending could validate the science behind chewing gum’s benefits the way that Tiger did simply by chewing gum and winning the Masters in epic form,” Troy Widgery, Apollo Gum founder, said in an email.
Woods’ gum chewing was noticed by Golf Digest, which published an article online April 11 that mentioned Apollo Gum and its newest product line, Golf Gum, which includes natural caffeine and B vitamins.
Although there’s no specific evidence that Woods was chewing Golf Gum — as opposed to, say, a classic Wrigley’s Doublemint, or the whimsical Dubble Bubble — Widgery said the company “caught lightning in a bottle” with the story, which he said prompted the bump in sales.
“I have been working on Apollo Brands for almost 12 years — coincidentally the same length of time since Tiger won a major tournament — so there is almost a sense of karma to the recent surge in sales and interest in our brands,” he said.
Some of the benefits of chewing gum — such as enhanced alertness, reaction times and focus — can be gained from any kind of chewing gym, Widgery said. But as Golf Digest noted, studies from The National Institutes of Health also found that caffeine consumed before and during a round of golf “improves golf-specific measures of performance and reduces fatigue.”
These studies spurred Widgery to launch Golf Gum in December 2017, using a formula he said he’d perfected in 10 years of testing. The formula includes a highly concentrated liquid core made up of caffeine and B vitamins, surrounded by a shell of the sugar-free sweetener xylitol.
Online, Golf Gum retails at $6 for a single pack, which includes five pieces of gum. A 15-pack tray sells for $47.
Variety of gums
Apollo makes two other product lines: an Energy Gum Supplement — the brand’s original, which attracts “health-conscious athletes, weekend warriors, and desk jockeys” — and Fly Gum, which is targeted to travelers, pilots and flight crews as a way to beat jet lag.
The gum’s liquid core of “functional ingredients” is unique to Apollo. Other caffeine gums taste bitter, Widgery said, because the caffeine gets stuck in the gum. With Apollo’s liquid core, the caffeine and B-vitamins are released on the first chew, while the xylitol shell protects its flavor.
“The machinery needed to develop liquid-center chewing gum is highly specialized, capital-intensive and requires expert engineers to operate efficiently,” he said. “Although we can also make regular gum (without the Liquid Core), it’s really the separation of the ingredients that provides the most effective functional chewing gum.”
The company operates an 18,000-square-foot factory and research facility at 2600 W. 8th Ave. in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Widgery said Apollo recently doubled its capacity and added another production line, with the goal of simultaneously producing different flavored gums.
Though Apollo sells its products primarily online, it has a growing presence at various retailers. Golf courses and pro shops, such as Lenny’s Golf Shop in Aurora, have stocked Golf Gum, and Fly Gum is catching on with airport retailers, Widgery said.
The company also was contacted by distributors in Sweden, where golf is popular, and recently began distributing its Golf Gum there. Widgery said that the light and compact nature of Apollo’s products makes it affordable to ship internationally.
“After this past weekend, we were flooded with distribution inquiries from around the world,” he said.
When Woods was asked about his gum chewing after his come-from-behind win, he gave a response that one reporter flagged as “somewhat questionable,” as he seemed to contradict himself.
“Well, I’m chomping on this gum because I usually get hungry,” Woods said. “I keep eating so much, and it curbs my appetite a little bit, which is nice. Most of the time, most of the issues I have at tournaments, I lose so much weight, as you all know.”