Bazooka

Bazooka gum

Okay, so Bazooka gum isn’t the first commercially produced bubble gum, nor is it the first to contain a comic strip on the wrapper. That hasn’t stopped it, however, from becoming an iconic candy for well over a half century. It’s about as American as apple pie and Chevrolet, with its patriotic red, white and blue wrapper and its availability in just about every drug store for a mere penny or two. As a result, it’s mere appearance unfailingly brings back fond memories of childhood to anyone who ever took a moment to read a Bazooka Joe comic or save up a stack of the wrappers to turn them in for a prize.

Bazooka was one of the first successful products introduced by the Brooklyn-based Topps Company, who would later become very well known for their line of sports-related trading cards, notably baseball. The small rectangular slabs of pink, sugary gum were first introduced towards the end of WWII, when rationing of sugar and latex were finally relaxed. A few years later, in 1953, Topps decided to introduce the world to their mascot, Bazooka Joe, an eyepatch-wearing character who appeared in hundreds of comic strips hidden on the inside of the gum wrapper. One of the most recognizable ad characters of all time, he was an instant hit among kids, who loved his comical, lighthearted adventures. Even more so, they loved the fact that by saving up numerous wrappers, this paper bounty could be exchanged via mail for some fun prizes.

Over the years, bubble gum technology became more advanced, and Joe had an onslaught of competitors to contend with, but Bazooka has managed to hold its own and is still popular around the world. New flavors have been introduced over the years, including Cherry Berry, Strawberry Shake, Watermelon Whirl and others, but it is the good ol’ fashioned original recipe that remains one of the most recognizable flavors of all time. And the comics from yesteryear remain enormously popular on the collector’s market, fetching surprisingly high prices on places such as Ebay.

For a simple slab of pink flavored rubber, the legacy of Bazooka bubble gum endures and has earned a rightful place in pop culture history. And, it is quite refreshing to realize that, after some 60 years, the original product remains virtually unchanged. It might not be the first, it might not even be the softest, but one taste can send you traveling back into the simpler times of childhood, when a handful of pennies could buy a lot of gum.

If you have fond memories of chomping on a wad of Bazooka gum while whiling away those dog days of summer, or while playing in a little league game, or rebelliously during a class where it was forbidden, we welcome your recollections in our comments section – as we tip our hats to this childhood confectionery friend.

5 Responses to “Bazooka”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. jennifer harris says:

    I always loved this gum,when it’s soft to chew,but lately it’s been hard. I love the comics.

  2.   says:

    I noticed the taste is a little different than i remember.. (Not quite as good)

    I looked into it and the company was sold in 1997

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topps#Company_history

    Quite sad,i used to love this gum like crazy!! (It has a wierd taste to it with these new people)

  3. john says:

    I rememeber that this was sold for about 3 cents in the 1970′s and 5 cents in the 80′s.
    I enjoyed those zany fortunes and believed that they really told my future. There was even a big fad when the gum was made into liquid form and packaged in a tube.

  4. wesmorgan1 says:

    Wow, do I remember Bazooka. Not only did I carry a pocketful of the small pieces, but they used to make giant pieces that were about 2.5″x3.5″ in size and cost 25 cents back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You can see a wrapper from the giant piece at http://theimaginaryworld.com/gum51.jpg – note that the wrapper was worth 15 comics! I used to keep 4-5 of the giant pieces stashed in my room during the winter; we were often snowed/iced in for 7-8 days at a time, and I had to have my Bazooka…

    My other fond Bazooka memory is the “Magic Magnet Set” premium. It was two donut magnets, two ball bearings and a wooden dowel; it also came with a sheet of “tricks” you could perform. (You can see a Magic Magnet Set at http://www.petpeoplesplace.com/petstore/pet-image-large/1973-joe-bazooka-send-away-magic-magnet-set-w-envelope-must-see_310354634769.jpg ) Well, that was cool but hardly sufficient for me; I saved comics until I could order 15 sets! I still have 2-3 of those donut magnets today, 35 years later. My dad, an electrical engineer, set me up with wax paper and iron filings to show the magnetic fields at work…

  5. roxanne says:

    My stepdad had a friend who always loved Bazooka gum, Tommy Hickey. Back in the late 40′s-early 50′s, he would buy several singles or one of the big packs and stuff about 6 pieces in his mouth at one time.

    I remember seeing him in our little candy store when I was about 6….he still bought the bazooka, but had horrid teeth. We all took one look at him and went for the sugarless gum! :)

Leave A Comment...

*