The Sticky History Of Bubble Gum

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in Candy Blog

Can you guess how long it took to invent bubble gum?

365 days.

That’s right, it took 365 days to find the perfect bubble gum recipe, and just as it was discovered, the recipe was lost the same day.

Luckily, as we all know, bubble gum (and chewing gum) has become one of the most popular confections on the planet, and people every single day are picking up their favorite bubble gum and blowing bubbles the size of their faces.

But where did it all start? How did someone even come up with the idea to make bubble gum?

We wanted to find out and let’s just say it’s a pretty sweet story that has stuck around for quite some time.

Where did gum come from in the first place?

The origin story of gum goes back almost 9,000 years to the ancient Aztecs who first started pulling resin from the sapodilla tree and used it as a sort of band-aid to put over cuts and bruises.

When sliced a certain way, they realized it could be cut thin enough to become a chewable paste that they could use for enjoyment and alleviate toothaches. This was called “chicle” and it had strict rules about who could and couldn’t chew it.

Single women and children could chew it in public, while married women and widowed women could chew it privately to freshen their breath. On the other hand, men could only chew it secretly to clean their teeth.

Fast forward quite a few years to 1840 and in steps our man John Curtis—father of the first chewing gum strip. Curtis took it upon himself to develop the first commercial spruce tree gum by boiling resin, then cutting it into strips that were coated in cornstarch to prevent them from sticking together.

He quickly realized that using spruce tree resin was pretty brittle and didn’t make for a great taste, so he, along with a few other chewing gum producers made the switch to paraffin wax which is still used in some chewing gum today.

Within the next decade, he had launched a full-fledged chewing gum operation out of a factory in Portland, Maine.

During all of this, there were other confectionery geniuses at work trying to uncover new ways to make gum and there was one man who was working on an experiment that would change the chewing gum game forever.

Who invented bubble gum?

Chewing gum had been around for quite a while, when Walter Diemer decided to start spending his off-hours as an accountant at Fleer Chewing Gum Co. trying to make a new type of gum in 1923.

This was unlike any of the other chewing gum he had ever put in his mouth—he wanted it to be gooey and chewy enough that you could blow bubbles the size of your entire skull.

Bear in mind, that Fleer Chewing Gum Co. had tried this in the past with their “Blibber Bubbler” gum that they launched in 1906 but people complained that it was “too sticky” and simply stuck to their teeth rather than blowing bubbles.

Nonetheless, after a year of experimentation, Diemer stumbled into the perfect recipe that allowed for the ideal stretch but was not too sticky that it would get stuck to the face.

What happens next almost seems like fiction, but internet sources say this is in fact true—within hours of the discovery of the recipe, Diemer actually lost it and had to try to recreate it again from scratch. This took nearly four months before finding the recipe again, making it a long wait for bubble gum to finally see the green light of production.

He put a few drops of pink food coloring that he had on hand into the mix and hopped over to the saltwater taffy machine, wrapping 100 pieces that were to be shared with local stores. After only an hour of selling the pink chewy stuff for 1 cent a piece, he had sold out of the entire run of bubble gum.

How Dubble Bubble gum was made…

Diemer went back to his bosses at Fleer eager to bring this new bubble gum concoction to the world and they were ready. They immediately started putting production effort behind the project, giving it the name Dubble Bubble and putting its inventor in charge of selling it.

Diemer was quite the salesman, going store to store teaching employees how to blow bubbles so that they could then show customers how to do it. It’s also rumored that Diemer was so good at selling his bubble gum that he actually brought a 5 lb bag of it to one Pennsylvania grocery store and sold out in one afternoon.

In their first year, they broke $1.5 million dollars in sales.

As you can guess, Dubble Bubble exploded onto the candy scene filling up store shelves left and right becoming a kid favorite for its unique color, flavor, and of course, bubble-blowing capabilities. During the 1930’s packaging featured Fleer Funnies color comics with characters Dub and Bub, which was eventually changed to Pud and his pals in 1950.

One thing most bubble gum aficionados don’t know is that before WWII, Dubble Bubble was the only Bubble gum on the market. During the war itself, Dubble Bubble actually had to stop production due to a lack of sugar and latex.

Then, after the war, a new brand of bubble gum snuck into the market that would rival Dubble Bubble all the way to today—Bazooka.

While Bazooka and Dubble Bubble both have the respected fans, Dubble Bubble's history and rightful place as the original bubble gum makes it one of the most iconic candies ever invented, even if Fleer never gave any royalties to Mr. Diemer for his invention.

5 Bubble Gum Brands You Need To Try

Bubble gum is a staple across all countries and cultures today. From kids to adults, sports to school, and even Guinness World Record bubble-blowing, bubble gum is everywhere and sticks to everything it touches in the best ways possible.

Which got me thinking…

All this bubble gum talk has me craving some of that perfectly pink goodness and I can imagine you probably want some too. So let’s both do ourselves and our mouths a favor and check out these 5 famous bubble gum brands to snack on all summer long.

Dubble Bubble

Invented in 1928 by Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia and is known for its vibrant pink color.

Dubble Bubble Image Example

Source: Etsy

Bazooka

Invented in 1947 by Bazooka Candy Brands, part of The Topps Company Inc. This bubble gum is best known for its iconic mascot Bazooka Joe featured on the wrapper’s comic strips.

Bazooka Bubble Gum Example

Source: Pinterest

Bubblicious

Launched in 1977 by the American Chicle Division of Warner-Lambert, this bubble gum is most popular for its wide variety of flavors over the years including celebrity sponsorship like Lebron James’ Lightning Lemonade Flavor.

Image of Bubblicious Packaging from 1995

Source: Flickr

Hubba Bubba

Made by WM Wrigley Jr. Company in 1979, Hubba Bubba got its name from the military jargon, “Hubba Hubba” which expresses approval.

Hubba Bubba Image

Source: Pinterest

Super Bubble

Invented in 1946, Supper Bubble was created by the Thomas Wiener Company in Memphis, TN. This bubble gum is loved for its iconic flavors like apple, grape, and watermelon.

Super Bubble Example

What are you waiting for? Grab some gum and get to chewing!

Your gums are waiting for you to pick up some of your favorite childhood bubble gum and you can do it right here in our digital bubble gum aisle.

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