Oh yes. These things. Staples of my childhood diet! No kid could resist bubble gum rocks that poured from tiny juice cartons! Made by Topps in the early ‘80s, “juice gum” survived until long after I’d stopped paying attention. For all I know, they’re still out there somewhere. Let us pray.
The gum was delicious, delivering sharp first chews. Sure, the flavor almost immediately dulled into nothingness, but that was just an excuse to chew more gum.
Course, nobody sought these for the taste. It was the gimmick. You might say that children have low standards or are too easily amused, but we should all be jealous of them. Only kids could find such peace with the world by pretending that gum was juice. I miss that sort of innocence more than I miss Cyrano Magnus Maximillion. (Dead hamster.)
Then there was the gum itself. Not the flavor, but the actual, physical, unchewed things. “Rocks” is the only way to describe them. They poured out in many shapes and sizes, looking like hilariously tacky fish tank gravel.
Whatever your fetish, the gum delivered. For me, they were especially useful as mock jewels for my toys to fight over. Modulok had many arms, and they all grabbed for this gum.
For a long while, the orange juice flavor was my mainstay. I despise apple candies, and though grape was usually on an even level with orange, grape juice certainly wasn’t.
Later, I found a new flavor, or at least a flavor that was new to me.
From that point on, it was all about PINK LEMONADE. There was just no freakin’ comparison. The flavor… the sleek black box… the fact that the usual fruit mascots had been replaced by a goddamned anthropomorphic glass. It was slick and awesome, and chewing it made me feel the same.
To rub salt in the others’ wounds, PINK LEMONADE also came with two distinct gum colors and flavors. There were spicy lemon rocks, and sweeter pink ones. This turned us into mad scientists, developing our own preferred ratios of sour-to-sweet. The wicked may have even opted to eat all of the pink rocks first, masochistically cursing themselves to an “ending wad” of nothing but lemon.
There weren’t many candies that let you play God this hard.
Our versions of historical events are so easily influenced by personal experiences, and so, for the sake of journalistic integrity, I will admit that the flavors featured here do not summarize the “juice gum” collection in total. There was also a Tropical Punch flavor, along with several Bazooka-branded additions — including the minor miracle known as “Strawberry Shake.”
I’ve learned that these others existed, but they were never a part of my childhood. In my experience, the cool factor never rose above PINK LEMONADE’s screwy tongue.
So, when I tell you that PINK LEMONADE was the end-all/be-all, try not to argue. For me, it was.
For any sane human being with a soul and a brain, it was.
I wrote this during the final minutes of Valentine’s Day. I am a hopeless romantic.