The History of Bubble Dumb: People just chew it up and spit it out

It’s like October’s calm before the terrifying storm.

Before oozing zombies taunt children, before dripping vampires or giant walking hot dogs comb the vacant city streets on the 31st, consumers are dazzled at every glistening store corner.

It’s the only time the Pillsbury Doughboy will wear a blue Zorro mask or the Count Chocula family will congregate at the convenient end of the cereal aisle. It’s the only time the souls of Spooky Nerds and Howlin’ Laffy Taffy will come to life. It’s the only time the Jum-Blo Gum Ball logo will hire a bloodshot eyeball to fill in for the O.

That would be morbid to sell in January.

While the Oreos boast of their bursting orange innards, the snooty A-list candies bite their Hershey thumbs at the outcast fish with their Swedish accent and unfestive pound bags of Dubble Bubble. “Two for $4,” the cling tag reads. “Get ‘em out of our sight.”

In a world where Cadbury Adams and Wrigley dominates the chewy realm of gum base, corn syrup and sugar, Dubble Bubble still holds its head high when it slithers through the conveyor belts of Tootsie Roll Industry’s Concord Confections.

Still in a stretched rope form, the pink strands lie on belts of powdered sugar to avoid sticking, and wait to be cut and clothed into the twisted yellow suit with blue frills.

Although it was an accident, little DB was born in 1928 at Frank Fleer’s Chewing Gum Company and marked the start of America’s modern bubble gum buffet.

Blue bubble gum cigars are perfect for when It’s A Boy. Hubba Bubba Bubbletape is great for those who eat gum in 12-inch increments only. Bubble gum band aids mend imaginary boo-boos while bubblegum-flavored antibiotics cure imaginable infections. Three Olives Bubble Gum Vodka can make one sticky martini –garnished with a toothpick and a glop of Dubble Bubble sounds pretty sweet. A bottle of Jones Blue Bubblegum is pure cane sugar soda, for those who aren’t old enough for the vodka. For smokers on the lookout for an alternative brand to Marlboro or Camel, bubble gum cigarettes come wrapped in white with a brown filter tip. Blowing the powdered sugar smoke is probably better than a nicotine fix, and the cigarette packs even have sophisticated cowboy emblems on the front.

Tobacco dippers aren’t left out, either. The first aluminum foil pouch of Big League Chew weaseled its way into the bubble gum industry in 1980, thanks to the Portland Mavericks’ lefthander Rob Nelson and teammate Jim Bouton. Nelson first concocted the gum in a frying pan and shredded it to get the Skoal look. Now, sports lovers all over America can shove mounds of Outta’ Here Original or Ground Ball Grape in their mouths for the ultimate bubble-blowing opportunity during a big game.

That’s exactly what Walt Diemer, a creative accountant at Fleer’s Chewing gum Company, set out to do –make a new formula for gum that gifted chewers with a fun, bubble-blowing ability. The failure of Fleer’s original Blibber-Blubber gum made Diemer’s son, Dubble Bubble, an immediate success until WWII put a stop to production. While the main ingredients for dwindling amounts of Dubble Bubble were diverted to war efforts, the rest of DB’s brothers and sisters were rationed among hooked consumers.

After WWII, the gum came back headstrong as other Dubble Bubble flavors hit shelves and Bazooka rivals emerged packing extra ammo –Joe and His Gang comics.

Bazooka Bubble Gum was born in Brooklyn and named after American comedian Bob “Bazooka” Burns, who invented an odd musical instrument out of a funnel and two gas pipes. He dubbed it a “bazooka,” and proudly played it during a duet of Clementine with singer Shirley Ross in 1946.

Decades out of the black-and-white era, the pink wads of original Bazooka and Dubble Bubble are nostalgia at its finest, since most current gum varieties have a laser show of colors and tastes to choose from. Bubblicious, the over-achieving offspring of Cadbury Adams, can range from neon green squares of Savage Sour Apple to chunks of Twisted Tornado for the taste buds. Even Bazooka has jumped into the turn of the century with Bazooka Bubble Juice Nuggets that come in Rockin’ Original or Slammin’ Blue Raspberry.

However, Klutz Press cleverly recommends using Original Bazooka with its Bubble Gum Science book, which comes with six pink pieces and instructions for life on how to blow the biggest bubble, double bubble or even the triple bubble.

Although mass-produced bubblegum has spiraled into a vortex of changing consumer appeal, original flavors always stick with the pink, stretchy sweetness.

When Dubble Bubble was conceived, daddy Diemer perfected the flawless formula and grabbed the only food coloring available in the lab –it just happened to be pink.

These days, the Concord Confections family has brilliantly scatterbrained children who carry on the Dubble Bubble genes. Painterz Gum Balls sport the DB logo, but are designed to paint lips and tongues whatever color they devour. Cry Baby Gum Balls still posses the sweet DB spark but is packed with enough sour to punch a baby in the face and leave them in a stroller, crying. This leaves high hopes for Dubble Bubble’s grandkids, assuming that their parents swap corn syrup with someone even more dubblelicious.

So, when the Halloween aisle gets demolished to clear a path for Saint Nick and napkins with turkeys stitched on them, keep a sharp eye out. While DB sits on the shelf with sad puppy eyes and a red clearance sticker, be sure to boost the spirit of America’s most important bubble gum that is most forgotten.

Adopt every bag.


You are all peas.

In the depths of my bowl of sugar snap peas once frozen, there is a lone broccoli tree. Drenched in pea juice at the bottom of my bowl, surrounded by bitten shrimp tails and little green balls that have so cleverly escaped the pod.

Where is it's origins? Why is it here?

It looks dirty. All green and stalky in appearance. It's the misfit. Has it made friends with fellow peas? Do they resent it? Did they bring it into their pea world with open pod flaps?

Was it inconveniently stuck in the conveyor belt when factory orders called for a shift change to pea processing?  They lived together. Were frozen together. It was just looking for better weather. In my microwave.

I am the broccoli.