Tonight’s random topic: BUBBLE GUM. Very old bubble gum that I spent too much money on. Turning frivolous purchases into Dino Drac content is my eternal salvation, so here we are.
Below: Five bubble gum brands from the ‘80s and ‘90s. May they help you remember a time when perusing the candy rack at your local deli meant everything in the world.
While Ouch (properly styled as “OUCH!”) still exists in a less-interesting form, this is the original version. Made in the early ‘90s, Ouch was like a less flashy Fruit Stripe. In truth, the gum couldn’t have mattered less. The real reason everyone bought it was for the insanely cool packaging.
Sold in tins meant to look like Band-Aid containers, each stick was wrapped in a bandage-like wrapper. “Band-Aid gum” doesn’t sound immediately thrilling, but the draw was in carrying around blazingly pink aluminum tins. That was our version of “accessorizing.”
The best part was how you could repurpose the tins after the gum was finished. I’m sure a great many of you will look at that photo and remember how well they worked as portable coin banks.
Bubble Tape is still made and still chewed, but if you weren’t around for its debut, you missed the mantra. The old commercials treated Bubble Tape like some magical thing meant to help kids take special pride in their non-adult status, portraying everyone over 18 as unhip harpies who didn’t deserve rolls of chalky gum. (Remember the tagline — “It’s six feet of bubble gum… for you… NOT THEM.”)
Bubble Tape debuted in the late ’80s and immediately became the in-thing. By 1995, it was popular enough to warrant several spinoffs, including this “Mega Roll,” which upped the ante with TEN FEET of bubble gum.
This was major! The usual six feet was impressive, but ten feet was taller than Andre the Giant. I think we’ve all done that thing where we tried to chew the whole six foot roll at one time, a process I’d describe as jaw-achingly unpleasant but still altogether possible. Well, you couldn’t do that with the Mega Roll. You had to ration this shit. Finally and for once, we had too much gum!
I’ve written about Freddy’s Bubble Gum before, but since that time, I managed to complete the set. Now I have all six versions! Yes! Six different Freddy photos with six different oddball sayings!
Made by Topps in 1989, Freddy’s Bubble Gum proves that Krueger’s reputation as a jokey, kid-friendly antihero really does date back that far. In fact, most Nightmare on Elm Street merch from the ‘80s was targeted at kids. One-liners from the movies aside, I think that had more to do with the swell of Freddy Krueger Halloween costumes than the films. Kids knew who he was before they really knew who he was.
The quotes on the plastic tubes weren’t pulled from Freddy’s movies, but were rather written by someone at Topps who apparently went to work while shrooming. “The Freddy nobody knows” is the most mysteriously disturbing, but if I had to pick a world champ, it’d have to be the package of bubble gum that says “Quiet – I’m killing someone!” on it. Unstoppable, untoppable.
(The actual gum was just an assortment of multicolored Tiny Chiclets. If you bought Freddy’s Bubble Gum, you were only after the tubes.)
If you follow me on social media, you might remember the time I went to Atlantic City and found 48 Space Jam “Trophy Treats” for the low price of ten cents a pop. This was just last year, but the candy is from 1996. Nothing makes me happier than store owners looking the other way while I deplete their stock of 18-year-old bubble gum. I’m dead serious.
I found this at the same dollar store previously celebrated on Dino Drac. The only negative about the experience was needing to cart four cases of Space Jam Trophy Treats up the entire length of the Atlantic City boardwalk, barely able to hold them while strangers viewed me with a mix of confusion, fear and embarrassment-by-proxy. It was my own Procession to the Calvary, albeit with a happier ending.
Each plastic Michael Jordan bust hides a handful of orange gumballs, which I assume are meant to represent basketballs. The gum has grown darker and more misshapen over time, suggesting that the Michael Jordan busts aren’t completely airtight. Oh well. I didn’t want to chew gummy basketballs from 1996 anyway. I’m lying.
HOLY SHIT, I FOUND ONE. The Strawberry Stripe, I mean. Mummy Shark readers should recall this old post where I bitched about an eBay auction for Strawberry Stripe Bubble Yum somehow reaching 482 dollars. I desperately wanted that pack, but I was playing against collectors who were way richer and nuttier. I lost, and I stewed.
Recently, I was able to find one for a much more reasonable price… even if it was still a price that 99% of you would find absurd. Whatever. I wear one pair of jeans and my favorite dinner is Dollar Tree ramen. I save my splurges for stuff like this.
Best of all, I was able to snag two other old packs at the same time. (I’m pretty sure that Bubble Yum still makes the Hawaiian Punch flavor, but this is the 1989 original. Its debut year!)
I love all three, but Strawberry Stripe was my white whale. It’s hard to define my attraction to this gum; all I can tell you is that I’ve rarely felt a love so pure. Maybe it’s the package design, which faintly resembles chicken footprints over a puddle of blood.
Thank you for reading about my old gum. Have a wonderful weekend.
PS: If you liked this article, you’ll probably like this one, too.