Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Favorite Brand Of Chewing Gum As A Child





Told you so.

(I'll save you the trouble of searching for it. If you hit the link, it's in the eighth paragraph down.)

Anyway, we're all adults here, right? Or, at least, we're old enough to be. So, let's talk about chewing gum.

(I've already lost MY WIFE. She hates the stuff. I don't think it's the actual substance so much as it is watching someone chew it. She can't stand the lip-smacking and popping sounds some people make. I'm not fond of that, either, but I just close my eyes and imagine them doing something else while making those noises, although if they're blowing bubbles... wow, this digression turned out to be much more double-entendred than I thought it would be when I started. With luck, it will remain inside of these parentheses and not contaminate the rest of the post with childish innuendo. Knowing me, though, I wouldn't count on it.)

(Speaking of childish innuendo, did you know that the same guy who drew Bazooka Joe comics had previously drawn the hardcore pornographic comic strips known as Tijuana bibles? It's true. His name was Wesley Morse. I just learned that while "researching" this piece. And now, you know... the rest of the story! You're welcome.)

(I promise I'll get back to the subject of chewing gum any day now, but isn't it amazing how far we've come as a society? Those salacious comic books used to be the hottest thing a person might encounter before the age of 18, distributed under the counter by the sort of guy with rheumy eyes, a three-day growth of beard, and a few whiskey bottles that had been emptied while the beard grew, but now you can just put the term "Tijuana bible" in Google and come up with scads of them to read at your leisure, maybe even at your workplace while you're writing some tripe about chewing gum instead of doing what you're paid to do. And it's not easy laying off reading that stuff and coming back here to entertain you, so I hope you appreciate the effort.)




("I'll gladly pay you Tuesday...")


OK, enough! We're here to talk about chewing gum, dammit!

Since we already mentioned Bazooka Joe, let's start there. Or, rather, with the gum upon which Bazooka Joe comics were wrapped, which was, of course, Wrigley's Doublemint.
Nah, I'm kidding. I just wanted an excuse to put up another graphic before the one of J. Wellington Wimpy in flagrante delicto soiled your mind forever. Ah! Fresh and minty! Of course, as any idiot knows - I know it, so that proves it - Bazooka Joe was the spokesman for Bazooka Bubble Gum. Why a brand of gum was named after anti-tank weaponry is unknown, but it was the default bubble gum of choice for kids who grew up in the 50's and 60's. In some neighborhoods (or, perhaps, only mine) it became a generic term, much like Jell-O or Kleenex. "Let's go to the store and get some Bazooka!" we'd say, and then someone else would reply, "Yeah, and maybe the guy behind the counter will have some more of those dirty comic books!"

(Did any of you chew Bazooka? If so, did you ever send away for the premiums advertised on the comic strips? I must have chewed thousands of pieces over the course of my lifetime, but I never saved enough comics to send away for stuff. If I had, I would have ordered the X-Ray Specs. And been spectacularly disappointed.)

The only true rival of Bazooka was a brand called Dubble Bubble.



Dubble Bubble was a harder gum to "start" than Bazooka. That is, it was like chewing a piece of sugary pink whale blubber at first, whereas Bazooka was a bit softer and more quickly reached the bubble-blowing stage. This may not have been the natural state of things direct from the factory. I suspect that the Dubble Bubble in our region was stale, since it sat on the shelf until there was no Bazooka to be had and then we bought it while in the throes of tutti-frutti withdrawal. As was the case with Bazooka and Bazooka Joe, Dubble Bubble also came wrapped in a comic strip. We always considered it a second-tier sort of strip, though; not up to the high standards of Bazooka Joe. The star was Pud.




Bazooka Joe was cool. He wore an eye-patch and was usually the one who spouted the clever punchline. Pud was a dipshit. And he also had the misfortune of sporting a moniker that we Boston kids understood to be another name for "penis", so we would have been extra wary of saying we preferred Pud.

(By the way, the world can be divided into two classes of people: those who blow bubbles and those who don't. I personally feel that anyone who never blew a bubble as a kid should be ineligible to become president. Rick Santorum, of course, would limit the exclusion to those who prefer Pud.)

As preteens, bubble gum was our gum of choice, but if none was available, just plain old chewing gum would have to do. In my case, mint was the preferred flavor, and, more specifically, peppermint. I've always found spearmint just a tad too sharp, while peppermint has a warmer, more mellow flavor (but maybe I'm talking to a whole bunch of wintergreen lovers and the distinction is lost on you poor tastebudless souls.) While Wrigley was probably the king of chewing gum in most parts of the country, Beech-Nut was the one for we discriminating Dorchester youth.



(Nope. I haven't the slightest. Let's move on.)


My Grandma used to chew Beech-Nut peppermint gum while she smoked Winston cigarettes (which was almost assuredly preferable to the other way around.) I think that's why I now smoke menthol cigarettes. They combine both flavors into one utterly delicious cancerous package.

(I recall now that My Mom - as a matter of fact, most moms in the old neighborhood - preferred Chiclets. I enjoyed them sometimes. It had the novelty of being enclosed in a hard candy shell, making it crunchy for the first minute or two [and I could make some joke here that would bring us full circle to the Tijuana bibles again, but I won't.])

As I entered my teens, I tried expanding my palette. I gave some time to such then-stalwart brands as Dentyne, Clark's, and Beeman's.



Dentyne used to purport in its advertisements to actually be healthy for your teeth. Well, a kid who had as many cavities as I did could hardly be expected to pass up the opportunity to keep on chewing gum if it was good for his teeth, so I tried some. Of course, no gum is really good for the teeth; it can only be less harmful. Dentyne was good for your teeth in the same way that the budget proposals from most of the major presidential candidates will lower the national debt. If it helps, picture Obama as Bazooka Joe, Ron Paul as dental floss, and all of the others as Pud.

Clark's gum came in weird flavors. There was Cinnamint, Teaberry, and Sour Lemon. These days, both Cinnamint and Sour Lemon wouldn't be anything outrageous. When I was a kid, however, they were revolutionary. Young Boston Irish kids, for whom black pepper was a far out and wild spice, found Cinnamint entirely mouth-burning. And none of us could figure out why anyone would chew Sour Lemon gum. I think the only time I ever bought it was so I could offer pieces to my buddies and then watch the great faces they made when the taste hit.

Beeman's, however, became something of an obsession with me.




I was one of those kids who really enjoyed black licorice. When other kids would look to throw away the odd licorice candy that showed up in, say, Necco Wafers (which could be the subject of a whole 'nother post, and maybe they will be next week) I'd say, "Give it to me! I like those!" (which didn't help my rep as an oddball.) So, when I found this BLACK gum... well, to say it made me happy would be like saying Toddlers & Tiaras is slightly uncomfortable to watch; an understatement of vast proportion. As well as tasting good, Black Jack allowed one to work up truly dark and evil-looking spit, and I imagined I was fooling people into thinking I was chewing tobacco every time I gobbed on the sidewalk.

Beeman's other great product was NOT the clove gum. That had the same sort of appeal as an atomic fireball, which was to see how long you could keep it in your mouth before you just had to spew it out. No, the other delight was their pepsin gum.

Pepsin gum was touted as an aid to digestion. Since I had absolutely nothing wrong with my digestion, that wasn't the draw. Beeman's Pepsin Gum just tasted great! By the time I attended Boston Latin School, which I despised, the lure of buying a pack of Beeman's Pepsin Gum at Park Street station, on my way to school each morning, was sometimes the only thing that kept me on my way to school at all. It was that good.

(Beeman's should be paying me for writing this. Just in case you're wondering, they aren't. But, if they see this and want to send me a few cases, I won't let any sort of misguided principles get in the way.)

I suppose I could go on about gum (maybe I already have) reminding you about the pleasure of stepping in a big wad of it while walking down the street on a hot day, or maybe bringing to mind when you stuck it under your desk at school or something, but nobody is reading this. Everybody ditched me back at the link for the Tijuana bibles.

Soon, with more b...

(I forgot about Juicy Fruit. That was an excellent gum. I used to take a stick and put it under my armpit when I ran out of deodorant, and... Oh, screw it. I want to see more of those Tijuana bibles, too. Later.)



35 comments:

Jeni said...

Sadly, for me, chewing gum/bubble gum (either one) is no longer something I do much less enjoy. Why? Mainly because it pulls my dentures out and then, gee whiz, I can't chew anything! But this post -definitely a walk down memory lane as I used to very much enjoy Bazooka! Over the years, I had slacked of on the gum chewing, even way before the dentures took charge of things but my kids -all 3 of 'em -took up the slack. Until they found some flavored bubble gums -grape and watermelon come immediately to my mind -and would pop that stuff in their mouth as soon as they got in the car! They did that solely to annoy me because I could smell that gum and it was a smell that always made me feel slightly nauseated and I would immediately start yelling at them to get rid of that blankety-blank-blank gum before I threw up on 'em!

Hilary said...

I'd still love chewing gum if it weren't for the fact that almost all of them are made with artificial sweeteners now.

I used to prefer Double Bubble as a kid. Other favourites were Beech Nut Stripes.. (they were fruity flavours), Wild Cherry Chicklets (pale yellow packet) and Tutti Frutti Chickets (peachy pink packet) not to be confused with the multi-colored fruity coated gum.

They stopped selling the Tutti Frutti ones in Canada in the late 60s and we used to look forward to occasional excursions to Plattsburg, NY or Burlington, Vermont (from Montreal) so that we could bring home a few packs.

Thanks for the sweet walk down Memory Lane.

Michelle H. said...

I was a Bazooka Joe fan as a kid, and I did save enough to send for something though I can't remember what. I received a very nice response saying that my choice was out of stock and they would instead send me a Bazooka Joe cap, which I never got.

Chiclets was my favorite gum, as you know, along with Wrigleys Juicy Fruit. Non-gum favorite was orange Tic-Tacs.

Sorry, but I couldn't stand black licorice anything.

Oh! You didn't mention that type of shredded gum that came in those pouches that were similar to chewing tobacco pouches. I remember it was a big thing for kids to act like they were chewing tobacco like their favorite baseball players, only to pull out the gum.

Craig said...

Ah, you're conjuring up my childhood here, Sully. . .

Bazooka Joe was definitely WAY cooler than. . . the kid with the stupid name. But Fleer also had a line of baseball cards, so, you know, they had that going for them. . .

True confession time - I never really did figure out the whole bubble-blowing thing until I was in college. So, it was pretty much all chewing gum to me, anyway. . .

Doublemint was probably my favorite ("Two, two, two mints in one!"), but Adams made a line of 'sour fruit' gum - apple and cherry were my favorites - that I was really into for a while - it was sour enough to get that 'sour gland' in the back of your mouth, kinda like the gum version of Sweettarts. . . good, good stuff. . .

Jen's dad was a school janitor, so we were never allowed to talk about gum under desks at my in-laws'. . .

And the charm of that bovine, cud-chewing look has gradually faded from my awareness as I've gotten older (last week, one of the catechumens at our parish was absent-mindedly chewing away while Father was giving her a blessing at the front of the church; not a good look. . .)

Craig said...

Oh, and you can rest assured that you would've been SPECTACULARLY disappointed by the X-Ray glasses (without even taking the bad 'spectacle' pun into account. . .)

Julie said...

lol ...

Suldog said...

Michelle - That was Big League Chew. Interesting trivia note: It was invented by Jim Bouton, former pitcher for the New York Yankees (among others) and the author of the best baseball book ever written, Ball Four.

Suldog said...

Craig - Shoot. I knew I'd forget something while I was being far too titillated by the Tijuana bibles. I didn't mention the sticks of gum you got with baseball cards. Oh, well. I guess I can get another 1,500 words out of that someday...

Stephen Hayes said...

I imagine these cartoons were quite provocative in their day. Now with a press of the button on our computers we can see everything.

I was a Juicy Fruit chewer.

lime said...

oh man, it's a little sad but i think i could do a whole post on my own chewing gum history. as a young kid it was rationed very strictly by my mother. i was allowed HALF a stick of trident. are you kidding me? that's like less than a single chiclet! my solution was to take my half a stick, chew it up a little, then hide it in my stockpile of other previously chewed wads until i finally had something like half a fist sized gob of gum stashed away. i'd chew it in secret. one day i made the mistake of going downstairs with the giant blob and my mother asked what on earth i had in my mouth. she was not impressed by my resourcefulness.

i preferred bazooka for the comics, but in our neck of the woods bazooka tended to be hard as a rock and double bubble seemed a little softer. i was also a fan of fruit stripes for a while but i found the flavor died out after about 4 chews and became kind of gross. for a time there was a gum, i can't remember the name of it, that had a liquid center. it was marketed with some awful double entendre line (of which i was oblivious at that age) about how it gave a surprising squirt in your mouth. it had a good flavor and wasn't too bad for blowing bubbles. when i was in about 6th or 7th grade bubblicious and hubba bubba came out and they were giant squares of bubble gum that allowed for some truly magnificent bubble blowing along with decent flavor retention. i hasten to add i was a skilled blower of impressive bubbles. i could even blow a smaller bubble inside a larger bubble, once upon a time. take that rick santorum, you pud!

the gum i found most perplexing in concept though was choward's lavender gum.

lime said...

and may i say, i don't know if it's a sign of unwellness or not but i was surprised by how seemingly svelte wimpy was given his strict diet of hamburgers. also, he needs to ditch the hat while doing the deed.

laughingmom said...

LOVED Bazooka Joe as a kid!! Also loved to get Juicy Fruit gum - although it really never tasted like any fruit that I could think of. I saved the wrappers and had a monstrous paper chain made from them.

I still buy Bazooka for my daughter - but I get the Israeli version on-line. We can't read the Hebrew but you really don't need the words in those comic strips!

Kathy said...

I was a big gum chewer as a kid, partially because I used the wrappers to weave together gum wrapper chains. I still have one from childhood that I hang on the Christmas tree and it contains some now-defunct gum wrappers (Life Savers gum with liquid in the middle,also known as "come gum"). I was always a fan of Teaberry, Beeman's Pepsin gum and Chiclets. I think there was also Sour Apple gum and other tart flavors that I was a fan of. And I remember getting some Bazooka gum in Hebrew, complete with Hebrew Bazooka Joe cartoon!

Michelle H. said...

AH, that was it. Big League Chew. Definitely not PC in today's society to see kids imitating tobacco chewers.

Craig said...

Kathy, you make me smile to remember those gum-wrapper chains my sister used to make. . .

We also used to fold the foil inner-wrappers into a little square U-shape that would fit into an electrical outlet, and make a really cool little pop-fizz vaporization/explosion, and sometimes even blow the fuse.

Uh. . . do not try this at home. . .

haphazardlife said...

Well obviously the best bubble gum was Bazooka. Plus the comics were "good".

I chewed Dentyne cinnamon gum for years,it reminded me of my dad, he always had a pack on him.

Suldog said...

Lime - You reminded me, also, of Blow Pops. If I had remembered those while I was writing this, I could have brought the whole double-entendre thing to another level completely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charms_Blow_Pops

SueAnn said...

Hated Necco Wafers and Juicy Fruit Gum. Ha
But Bazooka chewing gum was my preferred as well.
Enjoyed the trip down memory Lane
Hugs
SUeAnn

Connie/Mom said...

I don't know if any of YOUR teachers recited this little poem, but mine did quite often.

The gum chewing child and the cud chewing cow

are somewhat alike, but there's a difference somehow,

Oh, look, I see it now - it's the thoughtful look on the face of the cow.

Lowandslow said...

My favorite was Juicy Fruit, but when I chewed bubble gum it was always Double Bubble. When we bought the kind that came with baseball cards we threw the gum away...it was nasty! The lady in the drive thru window at the bank handed out little 2-packs of Chicklets which were OK, while my mom kept foisting Dentyne on me. 'Course she kept trying to stuff vegetables down me, and that didn't work either. But if I had to pick one, to this day I'd stick with Juicy Fruit.

S

S

Sandi McBride said...

Double Bubble couldn't be beat but I loved Big Red as just a chewing gum...loved this so much, it really took me down memory lane...hoping not to suffer a senior moment, don't need to get lost getting back to reality!
Sandi

messymimi said...

Yes, i read it through. Yes, Dubble Bubble really did start that hard, even in our area, where it sold equally as well as the others.

Oh, i loved spearmint and wintergreen, so i am a first class weirdo.

Thanks for the memories.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Dunno that I had a particular preference when it came to bubble gum. It seems neither Double-Bubble or Bazooka were particularly soft, but they were both superior to the stuff in the Topps packs.

Patricia said...

While I love Bazooka Gum, I was a Teaberry and Wintergreen fan as well. But Kathy brought a smile to my face when she mentioned the chains we made with the gum wrappers - I think theres still one up in my mom's attic, I gotta find it. Chicklets were meant to be eaten by the box, really one little square piece was nothing to a kid that could fit countless Bazooka gums in my mouth all at once.

Joan said...

Loved juicy fruit!
My Dad would get so mad at my sister because she would constantly crack her gum. That drove him nuts.

silly rabbit said...

I'm laughing my way through the post and the comments. I was a Bazooka addict. But we also sometimes ended up with hard gum. The solution was to squeeze the gum between your thumb and fore finger. If it gave, it was chewable. If not, head down the street to the liquor store and check out their gum. This resulted in the cashier at the tiny market warning us about NOT squeezing the gum.
I was also a fan of the Beemans gums. I still will chew the clove and licorice now if I can find them.
Chiclets were weird. My only interest in them was to see if I could use one to replace my front tooth if it came out. When the day came, the stupid chiclet was too wide. I felt so let down.
Dentene made my mouth and tongue swell. That was enough of that gum.
If I thought about being able to spit Blackjack and seem to be a tobacco chewing ball player... I'd certainly have tried.
Great trip down memory lane. Thanks!

Daryl Edelstein said...

There was a grape flavored gum .. cant think of the name WAIT I'll Google it .. cant find it but I think Adams made it .. anyway I was about 10 or maybe 12 when friends decided to buy a pack of cigarettes, walk a friend's dog as a cover and smoke .. I thought if I chewed some grape gum it would mask the smell of the smoke .. it did AND it also caused me to have hives ..I'd forgotten I was allergic to grapes ... sigh .. it was hard to explain to my mother how I had not eaten grapes or grape jelly and still ended up with a very bad case of hives .. I itch just remembering it ...

Buck said...

You pretty much covered all the bases here. With one exception: us MilBrats (well, the Air Force MilBrats) collected Wings cards, but we threw the gum away as it was particularly nasty. Dubble Bubble was my gum o' choice and it was all hard to start, as I remember.

A few years back a co-worker brought a bunch of Beeman's gum in to work to amaze and mystify those who had never heard of it (I was in Dee-troit at the time). Apparently the gum is back in production these days but it was hard to find for a while.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Buck, I remember Wings. If I remember correctly it was the Flying Wing card that was most desirable?

Ami said...

I loved this piece. Flavorful, with substance(s) unknown... wait, now I'm digressing.

I feel sort of boring now. I liked super cherry Chiclets. And fruit stripe gum.

But I had never seen a pornographic cartoon with humans until now.
The things you learn on the internet!
My education is complete.

I did see one once involving two crickets. They were in an amorous embrace involving full motion and 'chirp chirp chirp' was all around them in the air. And the boy cricket said to the girl cricket, "They still think we make this noise by rubbing our legs together."

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Fruit Stripe! I loved every single stick for the approximately 11.3 seconds the flavor lasted. Then it was back to Hubba-Bubba original, or grape. Holy crow, even just typing Hubba-Bubba grape just made my mouth water...been ages. I'm strictly an Orbit peppermint fan now.

Only you could so craftily weave politics & sex into a story about chewing gum.

i beati said...

loved all of these - have they stopped making dentyne altogether gosh I loved that !!

Uncle Skip, said...

I'm still trying to think if there is a single brand of gum you mentioned that I didn't swallow as a kid.
My introduction to bubble gum was Fleer's (Double Bubble), but is was wrapped with the ends twisted, like Bazooka.
Doublemint may have been my favorite chewing gum. My grandfather used to buy it by the box and attempted to use it as a substitute for cigarettes (he tried smoking a pipe, too).
Much, much later Bubblicious and Hubba Bubba came along. I liked the spearmint flavors

Shrinky said...

We had Bazooka gum too, over here - sold in a big solid round, pink lump - but I don't recall any cartoon strips coming with it. It sure was the king as far as blowing bubbles was concerned, though. I haven't seen it for decades, don't think they make it for the UK market now, but I might be wrong. It's a shame, I would have loved to introduce my kids to it!

Barbara Shallue said...

I confess I was once a gum addict. Friends would give me boxes of bubble gum for Christmas! But I never heard of Beechman's! (My favorite was Bazooka, but a close second was Double Bubble.)