Crazy ’90s Bubble Gum!

Before I drone on and on about old gum, some updates!

1. Join in Dino Drac’s Patchwork Project! Readers from around the globe are sending in extremely random images to be part of our virtual quilt, and judging from the submissions so far, this is going to be EPIC. There’s still time left to doodle, so get to it!

2. Dino Drac now has a slightly updated look, thanks to Cliffpro. Aside from some minor cosmetic changes, I hope we’ve addressed the cache issues that were keeping certain readers from seeing new posts. For more info, please see the first comment in this post!

Okay, now it’s gum time.

In today’s issue: Four strange brands of bubble gum from the ‘90s! (Actually, the assorted gums are all perfectly normal. It’s the containers that are weird.)

What looks like old candy is really so much more. These gum brands are windows into our collective past. The parts we liked, and the parts we’d rather forget. Mostly the latter. Let’s chew.

Probably the most famous on this list, the Bubble Beeper hid an odd number of gum sticks inside a faux beeper. And I mean “odd” literally. There are seventeen sticks of gum in there. How the hell did they come up with that number? Maybe it was secretly smart marketing, because when a pack of gum comes with seventeen sticks, you’re going to find someone to talk about that with.

Matt: Dude, you see those Bubble Beepers?

Cliff: No, but continue anyway.

Matt: They come with seventeen sticks. Seventeen! Who ever heard of a pack of gum with seventeen sticks?!

Cliff: But here’s the thing. I’m guessing Bubble Beepers come in some kind of beeper-shaped container, right?

Matt: Yeah.

Cliff: Well then you can’t call it a pack. It’s a container of gum.

Matt: Are you saying that “pack” can never be synonymous with “container?”

Cliff: “Container” may be synonymous with bundle, bale or parcel. But not pack.

Matt: You are being too literal. And your name backwards is almost “Flick.” You’re a third-string player from A Christmas Story.

Cliff: Actually no, I’m a giant bat. *morphs into a giant bat*

Beepers were all the rage for a while, and not just with the people who needed them. Plenty of my friends had beepers that they never used, not even for parental reminders about dinnertime. It was more a fashion accessory than a convenience.

Plus, according to the faculty at my junior high, owning one meant that you killed people.

I never bothered to ask for one. To me, the beeper seemed like part of that special thing known as “cool kids’ clothes.” The thing with cool kids’ clothes is that you have to already be kind of cool to get away with wearing them. I learned this the hard way. I remember that year when all of the cool kids wore ugly Fila sneakers. So, I got my own. Stark white, puffy and hideous. The response was not “welcome to our club.” It was more along the lines of, “you have no right to wear those sneakers.”

The wrappers included all sorts of zany beeper-related phrases, in what was a poor attempt to make the gum seem as important as the container it came in. But that could never be. We bought Bubble Beepers for the containers alone, which were to be used as a clip-on coin purses long after the gum had been chewed.

I can still hear the clickety-clang of those quarters now. All three of them.

Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em. Don’t hurt ‘em with your weirdly out-of-focus photograph, badly printed on a tiny tin can. You’re making my eyes move faster than your feet. And why is your backdrop the skin of an alien zebra?

Is this your idea of “outrageous,” MC Hammer? I see that you’re pointing to the sun. If I look up, will the sun be neon green and wearing your sunglasses? You’re a rapper, not a Warhol.

Yes, it’s MC Hammer gum, part of the “Rock Express” collection. One must assume that there were other musicians-turned-gums in the line, otherwise it would’ve made little sense to call it “Rock Express.”

I tried a piece. It tasted like star anise. So I’m guessing it used to be cinnamon. I dunno, shit’s old.

The Bubble Lock brings back awful memories.

We never really had static lockers in my school. I mean, we did, but nobody seemed to use them. Combination locks were only needed for gym class.

When I was a high school freshman, the good gym lockers were in short supply. It’s not that they didn’t have enough. The gym had plenty, but only some of them could actually fit anything. Those looked like whatever you picture when you think “locker.” The rest were these tiny little boxes that seemed more like PO boxes than something I was supposed to wedge my schoolbag into.

Of course, I got one of the tiny boxes.

Anyone who did was always on the lookout for a normal-sized locker. For one reason or another, certain people abandoned them as the year rolled along. After several weeks of tiny locker hell, I finally spotted one, and was quick to move in. Oh, the glory!

Oh, the short-lived glory!

The next day, my new locker had been vandalized. I guess the previous tenant (not in the same class) forgot his combination or something, and expected to resume ownership of his amazingly huge locker the next day. When he saw my lock on there, he flipped. Smearing deodorant all over it, he also took the time to tape a note onto the locker door.


So I went back to my tiny locker, and spent the rest of the year waiting to be jumped by the Padlock Mafia. Thanks for dredging up that memory, Bubble Lock!

Twisting the combination lock-thing, you’re treated with tiny balls of pink bubble gum. The Dippin’ Dots of the gum arena. I know this type of gum well! If you eat it piece by piece, it dissolves. Only when you down twenty or thirty at once can they gain enough strength to take the form of a wad. There’s a type of science at play here, and I don’t think it’s been adequately studied.

Finally, and if you ask me, most impressively, is the Super Gumputer. Yes, Gumputer.

Calling this a “gum” is such an undersell. Gum’s just the bonus. This is an outright toy.

Presented like a superhero headquarters mega computer, each of the buttons activates an electronic sound effect. The sound effects are very familiar: They’re the same machine gun, bomb and laser fire noises that so many other gizmos used to come with. Usually, those sound effects were reserved for “weapons themed” doodads. I’m not sure what war noises have to do with a computer. Distracting me from thinking about this further, I’m impressed with that tiny red light bulb, which actually still works today!

You could “program” the Super Gumputer to deliver tiny-sized fruit, watermelon or grape gumballs. If you lived on the edge, you could have all three at once. With the Super Gumputer, the world was your oyster. Only with this could you instantly summon tiny gumballs, machine gun sound effects and a blinking red light. Let the other fools do that with multiple devices. We only needed one.

36 Responses to Crazy ’90s Bubble Gum!

  1. With the aid of Magic Cliff, there’s a slightly new look to Dino Drac. So slight that you might not have even noticed, but I think it helps!

    Here’s what’s different:

    1) Got rid of the “bubbled off” content windows and joined everything together. The bubbles were a nice visual but I don’t think they were working as far as actually reading the site goes. The biggest plus to this is that the dark grey sidebar now extends to the bottom of the page, along with the content, to give each page a good “horizontal balance.”

    It may be a subconscious thing, but I feel this really helps the longer posts not feel so long. It also makes navigating through the blog page-by-page less of a chore.

    2) We did some cache-related business to hopefully end the loading issues – but I won’t know until you tell me. If you still experience half-loads, no-loads or any weirdness, let me know.

    3) Currently working on fixing the comments spacing and field. (A stopgap measure since I still intend to upgrade the system ASAP.)

  2. I’m having some serious nostalgia right now. I remember getting these things at Revco back in the day.

  3. All of the Wrigley’s PlenTpaks back in the 90s had 17 sticks as well, which always confused me.

  4. While not technically 90′s, the best gum ever was that Slimer gum in the tube.

  5. Is there a search bar?

  6. @ILDC: There currently isn’t, though I could add one. It’d be no different from searching Google with “” at the end, though.

    I am trying to expand and clean up the categories, though.

  7. Dude. You NAILED the horizontal balance.

  8. Surprised I’ve never seen that Gum Computer thing before, that’s a really great way to eat gum, and it seems like the type of thing too cool to just throw away.

  9. I’m pretty sure that’s “Gumputer.”

    I didn’t remember the PlenTPaks having 17 sticks. Why 17? What makes that such a magic number?

  10. Matt, did you live in a high crime area, or near one? Drug dealers often used beepers, so that’s probably why your school’s faculty warned against them.

    I remember the page bubble gum/candy dispenser, later replaced by the bubble gum/candy cell phone, with extendable antenna.

    That M.C. Hammer gum looks pathetic, it’s doesn’t even look like an official Hammer product. I’m leery of gum that comes in a box that looks like it used to be a Band-Aid container.

    I would have scoffed at the padlock candy, even at eleven years old.

    The “gumputer” is awesome, like an Eniac that delivers sugary snacks.

  11. @Johnny: Jeez, I can’t believe how long I’ve been staring at it and seeing the word “computer.” Fixed, thanks. Brain, bad.

    @Carpeteria: It’s all about the horizontal balance.

  12. Seeing the M.C. Hammer gum reminds me of bandaid gum…or at least I think so, can’t remember. I feel like at some point in my childhood I had it. It was a metal tin that mimicked bandages and was gum…can anyone else remember this?

    As a side note, when commenting on my iPad the name and email merge together. It looks like Name*Email* and then gives the field. Second line down says website them field, and third line is blank. Hard to figure out where to put what information.

  13. Rock Express was a line of trading cards, t shirts and also trapper keeper folders..forget what else they made. Link to the trading card is under my name

  14. I had Fila sneakers…mine were white and lavender and purple. I even had Oakley sunglasses.

  15. @Garrett: Working on that, I think Cliff will get to it tomorrow. Thanks!

  16. I totally remember the beeper gum and the lock gum. The beeper gum kinda felt like those little candy hearts with messages on them.

    Can’t forget Bubble Tape!

  17. Oh my god, I remember Bubble Beeper!

    Beepers/pagers were associated with drug dealers at my school too. I have no idea why.

  18. I can’t remember for sure but I think, at least in junior high, that our school put a ban on beepers. Which made no sense because you couldn’t really do much with them. At best, all I remember them being used for was “143″ codes and whatnot. Harmless shit.

  19. In high school we didn’t have lockers. It was a new high school, and because of budget cuts they did not put them in. We had gym lockers though and some kids used those as their regular lockers. We had to carry our backpacks and coats around with us which I didn’t mind. That meant I could use the pocket in the front of my backpack to put pencils and little things like that.

    And one year, I didn’t remember the combination to my gym locker number. So I just had the lock on the front, and didn’t lock it. At the end of the year, I had to admit I never used the lock and asked what the number was to remove it to turn it in. It was embarrassing to say the least. Nothing was stolen, so it really wasn’t a big deal.

    And in middle school, for a while you couldn’t wear Dickies clothes. Because the school thought that gang members wore that brand. And also BK shoes which was short for British Knights. Another gang reference, but they thought that gang members liked that brand and called them Blood Killers. Mind you I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, not the ghetto by any means.

    Also we couldn’t wear all one color because gang members did that to represent what gang they were in. Even though I knew a girl in the 8th grade that was dating a gang member. She threatened for him to do a drive by to a girl once while we were hanging out. She was one of those white girls that acted black.

  20. I went through many a pack of the pager gum. It was a big thing around my area. I never had a pager but my sister did. She was the cool kid I was the nerdy kid.

    Oh poor Matt, your shoe story reminds me of my attempt to fit in with the cool kids by begging for like a year straight to get a pair of L.A. Gear. They were white with pink and shiny silver laces. Not remotely my thing but I just had to have them and then had to wear them in defeat after being shunned by the popular kids.

    I also had one of the computer gum dispensers! It was a stocking stuffer. We often got strange little candies like this in our stockings each year. I just remember the gum being out and out horrendous though.

    I’m really glad I don’t remember the Hammer gum. That looks vile even if it is just plain generic gum! He’s in trouble with the law again! I just saw an article on him posted in the local Bay Area news maybe two days ago. I guess this is unfortunate timing!

  21. the name and email fields are squashed for me too, i’m on a mac. another idea: could you have a guide to how to bold/italicize/etc. in comments? i still don’t have the hang of that…

    i seem to /vaguely/ remember the beeper gum, even though i’m sure i was really young when it came out. hmm.

  22. *on how to. haha can we have an edit function too?

  23. Was the gum in the Beeper”container”all plain bubble gum?The colors on the wrapper seemed to hint at tropical or sour fruit flavors,something that was not as plentiful then as today.I could see myself getting sucked into that gimmick and being disappointed,possibly lashing out at strangers in my state of buyer’s remorse.

  24. @ohbebop: That’s what we’re fixin! :)

    Re: the edit button – that may come into play when we upgrade the system, but probably not so long as we’re using this one. So that may be a few weeks off.

    As for tags, replace the ( and ) with brackets and…

    Italics: (em) (/em)

    Bold: (strong) (/strong)

  25. For the life of me, I can’t remember any of these except the beeper gum. You know how to make me want stuff, though, Matt, because I want all of those right now…well, maybe not the MC Hammer gum…aw, who am I kidding? Even the shady looking MC Hammer gum.

    I never had a beeper, either. Like a lot of the comments said, I always associated them with drug dealers, but I associated them with doctors, too.

  26. That grey column extending all the way down makes a world of difference for something so minor. The Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Youtube links look a lot slicker, too—while I did like the hand-drawn aspect of the old ones, the grey outlining they had always seemed a bit off to me. Also, removing the “bubble” layout finally got rid of that weird little blank bubble-bar that was sitting on top of the Blog Archives for ages, which looks much cleaner.

    This article has actually solved a million-year old mystery for me. I never saw one of those Bubble Beepers, but I do remember seeing the wrapper that proclaimed “SORRY, LINE’S BUSY!” discarded somewhere, and I couldn’t for the life of my figure out what sort of situation would lead to someone needing to put that printed message on anything. Never would I have guessed it was actually a gum wrapper.

  27. The Pager gum is the only one I remember. I don’t recall pagers being a really huge thing when I was in high school. They may have been banned or restricted, like in Matt’s school. I did see that gum around a few times, though I never tried it.

  28. Every time I see the words “Gum Computer”, I read “Gumpster”. There should be a container of gum shaped like a dumpster and the gum could come in typical garbage shapes: a bone, an apple core, a newspaper, a banana peel, etc.

  29. wanna know a weird reason why there was 17 sticks of gum in those plen-t-packs and bubble beeper?

    because back when gum was a quarter, the plenty packs were 79 cents. that would mean 3 packs of gum PLUS 4 cents (roughly the cost of 1 stick of gum) so instead of getting 16 sticks for your 80cents, you got SEVENTEEN! sticks for your 79cents. Believe it or not, this was a subconscious correlation that almost everyone made and hence Plen-T-Packs were one of the most popular gum packs ever sold.

    Now BubbleBeeper might have eclipsed the dollar, but that would just mean the 21 cents for the novelty factor. But the 17 sticks were still there for the recognition.

    you won’t amend your post, duh. but figured you should know

  30. The one of these I had was the Bubble Beeper, but I remember another one… or series, I forget, that were supposed to be gum-based parodies of music, like “ZZ Pop” and such.

  31. What about Big League Chew?!

  32. I had the Bubble Beeper!! I used the bubble gum wrapping paper to write my phone number and give it to my friends.

  33. I remember there was some “Simpsons” gum that was a friggin HUGE deal on the playground. I was quite fine sharing some pieces for a few moments of fleeting popularity.

  34. i had bubble tape, big league chew, garbage pail kids, etc.

  35. hi i am doing a project on bubble gum and gust love old bubble gum brands and cool to see all the diffrent looks and styles of the bubble gum

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