The Bubble Gum Wars

Endless varities of chewy goodness
February 09, 2011
Every kid remembers the coolness that was bubble gum growing up. The kid with a pack of gum was always the one you would pledge your everlasting best friendship for a piece of that sugary bubble gum goodness. There is something unique about being a kid in the 80's and 90's that embodies the “Bubble Gum Wars”. Unique packaging, bright colors, extreme flavors, flashy commercials, and and us against them mentality in our right to chew gum. Or maybe it was just one small piece in our quest to achieve coolness.

Who can forget Bazooka? The coolness of Bazooka was forever ingrained in our young minds with the help of Bazooka Joe comics. The real prize for me was the fortune at the bottom of the comic. As a child the predicting the future was always a wonder. Remember making fortune tellers in class and playing MASH.

(It's ok guys you can admit to playing it as well.)
It also didn't hurt that Bazooka was one of my favorite Joes.

Big League Chew
"You're in the big leagues when you're into Big League Chew!"
Interestingly enough Big League Chew was pitched to Wrigley, the gum making giant, as a safe alternate to chewing tobacco. As kids all we knew was it oozed with coolness pretending we were grabbing a big hunk of chaw just like the big boys.

As if the tobacco-like package wasn't cool enough, every pack had an animated musclebound athlete on the front of the pouch appealing to my desires to be built like He-man and hit the long ball like Canseco. (I'm sorry Raphael it is a Jose Canseco baseball bat. That's right Jose was my baseball idol as a kid) Like most gums back in the 80's this top tier gum came in two flavors, original and grape. Other flavors I was unaware of were watermelon (anything artificially watermelon flavored is gross, this is a fact) and sour apple.

PAL is one of my all-time favorites. The flavor was astounding yet short lived. In elementary school our gym teacher would give us PAL bubble gum as prizes for competitions. Of course we got prizes for academic success as well but PAL bubble gum is one I most looked forward to, maybe it's because we weren't supposed to chew gum in class. Man we loved to live dangerously. Sadly today we cannot award success in our schools as our childrens' fragile egos cannot bear the burdens of competition and the possibility of failure. This fact alone makes the 80's and 90's superior decades.

Super Bubble
Ah Super Bubble. Before every T-ball/baseball game as a kid in elementary school our coach would stop by the local Pit Stop Market and would grab a handful of this bubble gum legend. We all knew what awaited us in that little brown bag before the game. (No not an ice cold double deuce) Again it came in the age old staple of original, grape and the slightly lesser known sour apple. All in all a good gum as it had a sweet flavor, nice bubble blowing capacity, and an average flavor lifespan.

Double Bubble
Double Bubble, Super Bubble's evil twin. Many here may prefer Double Bubble to Super Bubble like many of us choose to side with Cobra or the Decepticons over GI Joe and the Autobots, but personally I didn't much care for Double Bubble. It's hard for me to place a finger on it but something about the flavor was not to my liking. Now if a piece was offered I never turned it down. I mean who turns down a piece of gum as a kid. For some reason my grandmother always kept a stash of this in one of her kitchen drawers. I'd always go grab a piece whenever I came over to watch my Cubbies play on WGN in the summers. Yes, Canseco was my favorite baller but the Cubs were my team.

Bubble Tape
"It's six feet of bubble gum for you, not them."
Bubble tape was cool. It was like a new era of gum was at hand when it hit the market in the early 90's. I remember the commercials linking the neverending battle between students and the oppressive administrative authority in school in the battle over our right to chew. I know it comes in different flavors but the original is the only one I remember having. Another thing about Bubble Tape which may have made it cool, even though it never came to my young mind as a kid, it's packaged like a dip (snuff) can.

These were always a good choice as you had multiple flavors in a single packet of bubble gum. And if the next flavor just so happened to be one you hated you could always make your mom proud by sharing the next piece of your bubble gum with your friends and family.

This gum in toothpaste form was to me one of the softest sweetest sugariest gums on the market. Plus it came in a tube which made it different, which made it cool. I vaguely remember the Ghostbusters Slimer brand but more so and original bubble gum flavored paste in a pink tube however I cannot seem to recall it's name.
The Big Three

Bubble Yum, Bubblicious, Hubba Bubba
These three although similar in terms of packaging and multitude of flavors have to be on anyone's list of most delicious gums. Each posses a supreme bubble making capacity, a longer lasting flavor, and a superior flavor selection.
Bubble Yum was the first soft bubble gum ever made back in 1975. Bubblelicious was introduced in 1977 as a response to Bubble Yum. Hubba Bubba then came to be two years later in 1979. According to Wrigley's website the Hubba Bubba brand was discontinued in the U.S. sometime in the 80's but returned in 2004.
Bubblelicious Gonzo Grape blazed the trail for me and was by far my favorite as a child. Other favorites for me include Bubblelicious's Blue Blowout (blueberry) and Strawberry Splash. And who can forget the first time cotton candy bubble gum and it's blue and pink goodness graced its presence to our tastebuds. In those awkward early teen middle school days back in the early 90's there was something about the scent of cotton candy bubble gum being chewed by a hot girl that automatically made her hotness level shoot up 20 percentage points.

Chiclets were those wonderful multicolored tiny tablets of gum that came in that tiny little pouch that my grubby little hands couldn't wait to tear open and enjoy. Yeah the flavor lasted about as long as Little Mac the first time anyone of us faced Mike Tyson in Punchout but it was fun while it lasted.

Bubble Gum Cigarettes
You don't get much cooler than a gum that made you feel like an adult, a cool adult at that. How awesome was it that it actually looked like smoke from a cigarette when blew into the end. On a related note the non-gum candy cigarettes were also popular however I never enjoyed these half as much as the multicolored gum variety. As cool as these, Joe Cool, and smoking on T.V. was it did not make me want to smoke for real. I was always a bit of a health nut even for a kid. I took my Flintstones vitamins everyday :)

Liquid Filled Bubble Gum
Freshen-up I believe was the original liquid filled bubble gum although it came in other flavors the original bubble gum, spearmint, and Dr. Pepper are the only ones currently coming to my mind. I remember falling asleep while chewing a piece of Dr. Pepper bubble gum only to wake up with gum in my hair and stuck to my pillow.

Juice Cartons Bubble Gum (Topps)
I used to love these things. Great taste, great texture, and a different concept, Gum in a juice box made this gum stand out.

The debate about the best sour bubble gum could go on for decades but back in the 90's these two reigned supreme. Eyepoppers were tops on my list. They were slightly larger than crybabies and had a crunchy sour shell that would flake off from the bubble gum treasure that laid beneath.

And the final entry here, Blowpops. Yet another different concept that helped make Blowpops cool, put a bubble gum center inside a sucker. I remember breaking off the stick to better hide the fact from my teachers I was actually enjoying a sweet candy treat.

Well there you go. All of my memories of bubble blowing bliss rolled in to my first Retrojunk article. Hopefully not to be wadded up and placed under your desk or banished to the back page.

Thank you for reading, my Retro brotheren. I hope you all enjoyed a handful of my chewy memories.
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