The headlines read: “Bubblicious Bubble Contest!” Parents were up in arms! Kids were thrilled. A panic stricken nation clamored to its dial-up rotary phone network in the summer of 1978. Dark cloud infested rumors began to spread that this great “chewing gum” force was unstoppable. How could large corporations be so audacious? These soulless monsters were encouraging reckless behavior. Had the secret “Barbershop Lobby of ‘76” failed? There was nothing- and I mean nothing that the nation could do to stop this non-face sticking bubble gum revolution.
In the mid 1970’s, children were introduced to Bubble Yum bubble gum. We chomped and chewed and devoured this product. It had a waxy feel to it. It was quick to lose its flavor. It could be like chewing on a rubber balloon. BUT, the reason it was so embraced was because chewing gum “bubbles” could finally be blown up to the size of your head and sometimes larger. Yeah!
The gum had a magical quality about it. It did not stick to your face! And the bonus “pack” was; it was easily extracted from even the longest of flowing locks. There was no worry about the gooey, sugary mess globbing in your hair. Kids picked up the camera and began taking amateur photos. The Kodak and Polaroid executives had to be thrilled. Pictures began to circulate “school-wide” showing little boys and girls with what looked like see-threw pink basketballs glued to the front of their faces. The Teacher Education Association was divided on the issue, but most veteran teachers were in an uproar. Gum had never been allowed in class! The question on everyone’s mind precluded; what kind of gum was this?
There was yet another problem. This new “Bubble Yum” didn’t even make a loud pop; but rather an almost silent deflation from an exasperated blown bubble. Kids had to actually be “caught holding” or blowing a large bubble in class. So, to keep the gum out of schools, teachers from the “Old Guard” branded Bubble Yum bubble gum a “menace” and a “distraction” to the rest of the class.
Parents were less understanding with the infatuation of this new product. How could a “chewing-bubble” be that large without it getting stuck in your hair? Children’s manners were bubbling over into bizarre and nonsensical behavior. This new generation even fell asleep with “gum in their mouth;” without it getting stuck in their hair!! Adults knew this was scientifically impossible. When sugar heats up; it melts... AND sticks to things—LIKE YOUR HAIR! Facts are facts!
This posed such problems that PTAs (Parent-Teacher Associations) teamed with the BLA (Barbershop Lobbyists Association) to re-introduce sugar as the key component of gum. How was a barber to touch up your hair if your parents never had to cut gum out of it? The
(American Dental Association) stated openly that it would remain neutral throughout this flavored crisis, but history tells us money was being funneled to the movement. It was known in “dental circles” as the “NTC-Project.” The ad campaign promoted “Necessary Teeth Cleaning” by your local dentist. This NTC maneuver was designed to help dentists stay in business until the crisis blew over. The underground GAC (Gum Action Committee) was committed to stopping the Bubble Yum gum machine. But first the GAC had to determine what magical “non-sticking” element had replaced sugar. The destruction of ADA ’s way of life sat in the balance. America
First, repeated letter campaigns for senate hearings into the Hershey Company failed. The Candy Lobby was holding its ground. Then, covert operatives were employed to infiltrate the “Lifesavers” company where Bubble Yum was manufactured. This tactic was unsuccessful due to the fact that staff members had to sign an agreement that “they were NOT ALLOWED to tell anyone” how Bubble Yum was infused and factory concocted into a non-sticking gum product.
Drastic measures had to be taken. So a sinister plan was hatched as a necessary means to and end.
Suddenly, “out of nowhere,” a rumor began that revealed the “secret” ingredient of Bubble Yum. It was spider eggs!! The explanation seemed logical to a child. Spider eggs are soft and chewy and spiders carry them on their back “because the eggs won’t stick to the web.” A-Ha!! So there it was; the “non-sticking” bubble gum secret was out. What older kid wants to eat spider eggs? We all try them when we’re young but most of us grow of that.
Bubble Yum scrambled to dispel these rumors, but nothing seemed to work. The company even placed a full page ad in the New York Times! But customers were not buying it. I mean literally, kids do not “buy” the New York Times; nor do they read it… it’s got big words.
It seemed the GAC backed parents and barbers held all the cards. Persuasive rumors caused anxious youngster to question buying the Bubble Yum “spider egg” laced chewing gum. A contrived plot was forming into a successful campaign to stop these bubble blowing atrocities, and the sugar cane industry was “all smiles.”
Little did the public know, plans had been set in motion months earlier from Cadbury Candy Company headquarters for the introduction of a new “bubble gum” product. Cadbury would shock the world with its own brand of non-face sticking bubble gum. The product was unveiled as having more flavors with longer lasting taste qualities AND holding the same miraculous properties as Bubble Yum. Bubblicious came out with a national ad campaign featuring a national bubble blowing contest! Pictures of kids’ “chewing-gum-bubbles” were being taken across the continent. Every kid sent in a photo back in ’78 and some kids sent in more than one entry. They all wanted to win, but there could be only one.
Adults felt this “contest” had to be dealt with swiftly! Another plausible argument to putting a stop to this bubble gum blowing contest was the “fact” that anytime children become amused and astounded by a product, it can lead to “questionable behavior.” Because adults hate having real jobs, their most enjoyable hobbies include stepping up to spoil the fun for children. After all, that is the only benefit of being an adult.
Tensions ran high that summer, but after the contest was over, the melodrama died down. The adults could only sit back and watch things unfold. Bubblicious got its winner- (some stupid brat from
Jersey I think—can’t remember). But the most important thing is; the children had made their choice.
There was a united consensus from an overwhelming majority of youth that Bubble Yum was still less sticky and made bigger bubbles (spider eggs and all). On the plus side for Bubblicious, it did offer more flavors (some quite exotic). Bubblicious became an adult favorite while Bubble Yum continued to outsell the rest in late 1970’s.
I eventually grew out of the “bubble blowing phase” of childhood gum chewing; AND I’m guessing a whole lot of adults breathed a huge sigh of relief in 1980. That’s when some marketing genius finally put large quantities of sugar back into bubble gum. Sold to children in a smokeless tobacco pouch, Big League Chew quickly leveled the playing field. I kept a pouch in my pocket all the time! I even spit (a whole lot) just like Grandpa. A child with a tobacco pouch of Big League Chew (chewin’ gum) sure sets a parent’s mind at ease.