I Was Wrong About the Fruit Tums

They're better than the mint ones

Walgreens pharmacy, over-the-counter medicine, antacid tablets, heartburn, indigestion. (Photo by: J...
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I Was Wrong About

Welcome to I Was Wrong About, a series of reconsiderations and mea culpas.

There was a period of my life where I could eat a three-egg omelet, loaded with meat and cheese and vegetables, topped with more cheese and hot sauce, and enjoy a big black coffee before moving on with my day as if it were nothing. But due to a vicious combination of aging and genetics (Jewish), I’ve spent the days of my waning youth acting with immense caution towards “heartburn.”

My esophageal distress comes on out of nowhere, stopping me in my tracks (or munching), a sharp pain, or a burst of acid in my throat, ruining the taste of everything I’ve consumed and warning me not to tempt my body further. As such, I’ve become well-acquainted with various heartburn medications and remedies, your standard Peptos and Prilos. What’s in my bag? A variety of supplements that make eating a normal, if not occasionally joyful, activity.

One such item used to be the mint-flavored Tums, which I bought in the hundreds: some for the bag, some for the kitchen, some for my room. I ate, on average, three mint-flavored Tums a day. “Time for mommy’s candy,” etc. Life was good, or, at least, no longer tasted like the sour, regurgitated ghost of meals past.

Imagine my surprise one day when a friend asked for a Tums and, upon being offered one of my mint ones, refused the tablet — preferring, I suppose, to suffer with heartburn instead.

It was a shocking turn, but the longer I lived and the more fellow heartburn sufferers I spoke to, the clearer it became that I was the outlier. I learned that “no one” liked the mint Tums, “everyone” was using the fruit Tums. I had spent three decades walking on this earth under the assumption that we were all defaulting to the mint-based neutral flavor of any flavored treat, whether it was a toothpick or chewing gum. Hadn’t we all been burned by the chalky tartness of Flintstones vitamins? Of unopened Smarties at the bottom of a Halloween basket? It wasn’t until I had stepped outside of my so-called bubble that I realized the full extent of the widespread hatred for the mint Tums, which, as a friend said, “might as well be flavored like nothing.” Another friend once picked up the container of mint Tums in my kitchen and said, “You’re crazy for this one.” Crazy? I was the most normal person who had ever lived.

I spiraled. I didn’t sleep. I grew secluded and anti-social, preferring to medicate with my not-quite-breath-mints that coated my tongue in white paste and dulled my gastronomical pain than to spend time with my fake friends who insisted that the “smoothie-esque” flavor of the fruit Tums was a “treat.” I didn’t need friends; I had principles.

Until, of course, a fateful day: a bad bout of heartburn and a bodega with only fruit Tums. Dare I do it? Dare I turn my back on everything I knew? Desperate times, measures. But you know what? I was wrong. My friends were right. The fruit Tums are really good: a nice flavor and a good texture, closer to candy than they are supplements. Since that day, I’ve turned my back on dry mint Tums in lieu of a tropical adventure, a potent cocktail of fruit-flavored antacids. Besides, who was I, a gourmand, testing and trying and judging the textures of a non-medicinal medicine designed to make me forget that I ate food in the first place? After all, at the end of the day, they’re just Tums.