This article is about GUM. New gum and old gum.
I’m grouping them together because they’re brothers from different mothers. The Big League Chew packages are new for 2013, while the mysterious “Shreds” are… well, actually, I have no idea when they’re from. 1977? 1995? All I know for sure is that they’re old enough to be poison, and recent events on Boardwalk Empire have left me fearful of rolling the dice.
I can’t find hard proof, but referential evidence marks these “Shreds” as a 1988 release. Hopefully someone who remembers chewing these can confirm that?
I hopped at the chance to add them to my collection, because goddamn, that is some incredible art. They look like things that might’ve been sold exclusively at Universal Studios, but since some stranger on the internet swears he found them at 7-Eleven, I can’t go all-in with that theory.
The most phenomenal thing about them is that they existed at all. I’m usually good at making up facts to create a serviceable history, but there’s just no explaining these. Even if you think, “okay, it’s just gum fronted by various monster mascots,” the chosen patron saints are still so weird. King Kong and a werewolf? There is no tie that binds!
Further research taught me two things. One, Godzilla was also a part of this crew, and it figures that the character I would’ve wanted most is the one I couldn’t find. Two, all three monsters were also available in a “Heads” variety, where instead of strands of bubble gum, you got pieces in the shapes of the monsters’ faces.
Learning those things raises more questions than answers, so rather than dwell on the unknown, let’s focus on what’s in front of us: Amazing renditions of monsters who don’t always get such top notch art. In particular, I haven’t seen many interpretations of werewolves as badass as that one. King Kong, for his part, looks like an evil robot version of himself. I have no quarrels with any of this.
…and since it’s so schematically similar, I thought it would be a good time to mention this year’s Halloweenized versions of Big League Chew.
I usually whine when candy companies limit their “seasonal upgrading” to packaging alone, but here, it’s just too good to criticize. Something about turning monsters into serious baseball players really works.
Look at how determined they are! The werewolf is three strikes away from a perfect game, while the mummy is batting for redemption after two strikeouts. All we need is a green apple Dracula to play umpire. And maybe a pipe organ version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I’d ask for bleachers full of disinterested zombie fans, but I’m trying to stay reasonable.
I guess you don’t need wrapper reference to tell which is which. As much as it pained me to do it, I tore open the King Kong package for a closer look at those raspberry Shreds. The gum smells edible, but my eyes will never trust gum that gooey.
Fresh in the present, the Big League Chew prays to avoid the same fate. This is some Death Becomes Her shit, here. A warning to all gums that “living forever” is not all it’s cracked up to be.
I hope someone eats you soon, Howlin’ Original Big League Chew.
To clarify: That’s a face.
If you’re wondering why this article is so short, it’s because I needed to rewrite it – twice – after power outages. Apparently, even the looming threat of a tornado was enough to send my town’s electricity scurrying. If you never hear from me again, assume I died while using a flip camera and my old Animal Planet cow to reconstruct key scenes from Twister.