Jason Bodnick and Robert Di Marco were next-door neighbors in Wellington when they came across a way to make a new and improved version of caffeinated chewing gum.
The entrepreneurs launched X8 Brands and in March began distributing their new product, X8 Energy Gum, late last year. Priced at $4.99 for eight pieces, the mint-flavored gum is available online at x8energygum.com and in more than 100 stores in Palm Beach County.
The gum, which contains 50 milligrams of caffeine per piece along with amino acids and B-vitamins, is manufactured in Canada and shipped to a distribution center in the Midwest. The company is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens.
“Robert and I both have three kids and a pretty active family life,” said Bodnick, who is married and has children ages 16, 13 and 10. He previously owned a company that sold cleaning products to large grocery and drug stores.
“Our kids were playing soccer together. Our wives have similar interests in natural foods and yoga,” he said.
Di Marco, with a background in online marketing, has children ages 13, 9 and 3.
“We both work long hours. We were drinking a lot of energy drinks and a lot of coffee,” Bodnick said.
The two were doing some work for a phamaceutical firm and found out about a type of technology used in chewable products such as Nicorette.
Caffeinated gums have been around for a long time, but most are made just like candy. In the process, those gums lost a lot of their caffeine.
“This is a patented process; it is an FDA approved phamaceutical system,” Di Marco said.
While the caffeine in an energy drink takes 35 to 40 minutes to enter the blood stream, the caffeine in the gum is almost 100 percent absorbed directly through the gums and cheeks in about 5 minutes. Each pack of energy gum contains caffeine equivalent to that in five cans of energy drinks. The gum contains none of the other ingredients found in those drinks, such as herbal supplements and sugar.
Their marketing has been through social media such as Facebook and they sponsor half a dozen athletes in extreme sports like surfing. In exchange, the athletes promote the product.
Madelyn Marconi, a 16-year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident who drag races at Palm Beach International Raceway, said she chews the gum for a boost before taking off around the track. She doesn’t like energy drinks because they’re too sugary.
Marconi learned about the gum and the company through her friend Adam Baber, a local surfer the company sponsors. They began sponsoring her too a few weeks ago.
“I have shared it through social media, and give my friends samples of it. They tried it and love it too,” Marconi said.
So far Bodnick, Di Marco and a few silent partners have invested roughly $600,000 in the company.
They plan to release other types of chewing gums, with a weight-loss gum scheduled hit the market in about 90 days.
The FDA said in May it plans to investigate the effect of foods with added caffeine on the public, including children. Wrigley quickly removed its caffeinated gum from the market.
Di Marco and Bodnick said X8 Energy Gum is aimed at 18 to 35-year-olds, not children.