Friday, May 29, 2009

Bubble Tape


I don't know about you, but I prefer for my bubble gum supply to measure in feet. Sticks are for lightweights. Everyone knows that the true test of childhood victory is the ability to fit the maximum allowable denomination of chewing gum into your mouth and to successfully masticate without asphyxiating. But packages of gum are so difficult to unwrap, not to mention all that unsightly tinfoil waste. Sure, it can be fun for awhile to peel off the foil and stick it on your school notebooks, but what are you left with after that? I demand more from my gum.

Luckily, my concern did not go unaddressed. The Wrigley corporation not only recognized this gum supply issue, but also chose to capitalize it with a hefty marketing campaign directed as gum-crazed children. They recognized that kids prefer novelty products to everyday fare and went about tailoring a product to meet this need. They sat around the boardroom wondering, "Now how can we make a completely useless product for which we can utilize cold, calculated marketing strategies to convince children that they thought of it in the first place?"

The major thrust of many advertising campaigns directed at children in the 90s focused on the illustrious nature of adult disapproval. In some crazy existential marketing bubble, it was completely justifiable for a group of grown-ups to labor over advertising that outright villianized adults. Somehow, they managed to convince us as children that this was all some crazy idea that we had come up with. Never mind that the concept, promotion, production, and distribution of the product was completely controlled by adults. This was of little matter to the Wrigley people. The real bottom line was that children believed that this product in some way represented their lifestyle and needs while being generally repugnant to authority figures.

Adults likely frowned on Bubble Tape with good reason. A few sticks of gum to satiate a sugar-demanding child is one thing, but a full six feet of bubble gum is probably overkill. "Oh, you wanted some gum? Well, how about twice your height's worth? Now stick it in your mouth all at once and try your best not to die. Doesn't that sound fun?"

Bubble Tape was aptly named for its scotch tape-like dispenser. Who says office supplies can't be inspiration for food products? Alright, I've been known to say that from time to time, but can you blame me? It's pretty outrageous. This packaging allowed for easy access to a maximal amount of chewing gum, even possessing the capability to discard the dispenser entirely in favor of sticking the whole roll directly in your mouth.


Sometimes as an adult, when I try to eat a particularly unwieldy large piece of sushi in a single bite, I am eerily transported back to the chew-or-die memory of attempting to ingest a full six feet of Bubble Tape. The trauma has faded, but the awareness lurks just beneath the surface. My mother had told me (incorrectly, I should note) that swallowed gum would stick to my appendix, and I thus worried for years needlessly about my inexorable pending appendectomy. I can only begin to imagine what the fictitious surgeons would say. Come along, if you will, on a journey into my Bubble Tape-induced nightmare:

Surgeon One: Holy cow, Bill get a load of this!
Surgeon Two: Geez, what is that? A pancreas? Actually, on second glance it looks a little spleenish. Shouldn't we leave this in?
Surgeon One: Well, actually, I think it's...gum. Chewing gum. Enormous six-foot squared chunks of it.
Suregon Two: Gosh, Tim, she probably should have listened to her mother when she made up that ludicrous lie, then she easily could have avoided this imaginary appendectomy.

But why the urge to stuff all this gum into our mouths and masticate our way into all sorts of improbably dangerous medical scenarios? In all likelihood the commercials egged us on just a bit:



Ah, yes. For you, not them. Touche, ad execs. Touche.

You have to appreciate their understanding of the literal-mindedness of children through the illustration of 6 feet as actual human feet. On the whole, this advertisement makes very little sense. I accept that children-directed marketing doesn't necessarily have to make sense, but this truly is on the side of the extreme. Essentially, here's a random cluster of facts about our unsightly underoo-ironing gym teacher and equally unattractive ice cream-scooping mashed potatoes cafeteria lady. Sure, we understand that these are unsavory characters with undesirable behavioral attributes., but is their lack of endorsement really enough to prompt children to flood grocery stores en mass in search of lengthy chewing gum?

Apparently it was. There was some underlying childlike joy to be taken from the whole "For you, not them" concept. An adult requested a piece and you could flippantly say, "But, mother, haven't you seen the commercials? This gum is not intended for grown-ups. This is a product entirely intended for me." Of course, I'm sure our parents just loved these tidbits of commercial-learned wisdom. In fact, I suspect it was exactly this type of behavior that prompted my mother to concoct the gum-to-appendix lie in the first place: to regain control of the bubble gum situation by unfair use of fearmongering.

The real trouble arises now, as the "you" in these commercials are now all grown up. Actually, it's possible some of you are out their ironing your underwear right now. Do we still reserve this ad-given right to deny others the sweet six feet of confectionery goodness? Obviously this "for you, not them" argument was built on faulty logic; like it not, now we're them.

Regardless of this hole in the Bubble Tape reasoning, I say embrace your inner child. Go out there and buy spools of gum by the foot and remember a time in your life when this 99 cent piece of plastic meant the world to you. Just don't say I didn't warn you about the risk of imaginary appendectomies.

32 comments:

Katie said...

Bubble Tape was the reason I had to get 3 inches of hair cut off in elementary school.

The New Black said...

Grape was my favorite!!

for the love of pictures said...

Strawberry was mine :)

Fidgeting Gidget said...

It's six feet of bubble gum--for you, NOT THEM.

I liked the regular old bubble gum flavor...and I did try to put it all in my mouth at once on one occasion, and failed miserably.

nikki said...

With four siblings, I don't think I ever had my OWN package of bubble tape. Sniff....

Kris said...

the best!

Nic said...

Haha I loved that stuff!

Mr. Condescending said...

nothing compares to it! cept for big league chew baby.

Dani said...

I loved strawberry too!

Nessa said...

Grape was (and still is, cough) my favorite flavor!

Moonjava said...

Oh, I loved bubble tape, my fav was strawberry!

Lauren From Texas said...

now I totally want some.

maisquared said...

do they still make this? because now i really want to buy some!!

lovelila said...

I was never bold enough to try to eat the ENTIRE roll at once, haha!! I definitely had a mouthful whenever I was in possession of a roll, though! Yum!

Hannah said...

My nephew came over during spring break and we were wrestling in my living room and he spit his bubble tape out on the carpet and i FREAKED and we spent like an hour getting it out before my parents got home haha!

Kay said...

...Is it bad that I still chew Bubble Tape? I am one of those obsessive gum chewers, and in my many tests of taste, longevity, and overall amazing-ness, Bubble Tape ALWAYS ranks at the top. Honestly, that stuff NEVER loses its flavor. I think it's $1.29 now though...damn inflation.

Lil' Woman said...

yum Bubble Tape....do they still sell this stuff?

Al said...

i love that you can write SO MUCH on bubble gum!!!

i looooved grape!!

I GO APE OVER GRAPE

Andhari said...

I love bubble tap, this pretty much lasts until Junior High that I always bring it to school :P

LiLu said...

Strawberry is the best flavor of EVERYTHING. End of story.

Laura said...

This is the best post ever and congrats on your award today. So glad that it made you smile. Can't wait to read 7 aw-summm things about you!

bibberly said...

Bubble Tape had my favorite quality of pretty much any candy - a reusable container. When I was young (and even now), things with resuable containers for change, beads, etc. were way more desirable.

Awesome Sara said...

i want some now!! couldnt yo have posted this before i went to the market.bitch. just kidding!! but i need to find my pants and car keys

Rachel said...

LOL! I completely forgot about that stuff.

It was good for sharing, because if someone asked, you could give them a piece as big as, like, a fingernail.

the girl in stiletto said...

still love the bubble gum tape! lol.

and gums definitely not included in risk factors for appendicitis. lol.

weird stuff parents make up. my parents always told me not to run after eating, because it can cause appendicitis.

hahhaha like since when?

DaisyChain said...

I still love this stuff! I remember competing with my brother to see who could fit the most in our mouths at once.

Optimistic Pessimist (formerly known as marathoner81) said...

Ha! I just bought my son this yesterday!

Hanako66 said...

omg...I loved the og flavor!

Laina said...

I am so tempted to go out and buy a roll of that stuff just to see how much I can chew at once.

monty said...

Bubble tape has changed over the years, most notably in the width of the roll, its gotten far narrower. Also the dispenser has changed several times from the original chewing-tobacco-meets-hockey-puck container to its current pastel-pacman-regurgitator.

Some time in recent years, on top of the other changes, it seems the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company has merged with several other candy companies, including M&M/Mars, which has effected our dearly beloved multi-yard chewing sensation. It is now being marketed under the name "Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape", while the container remains fairly distinct and easy to spot, the name might throw you a little, but rest assured, its the same product we know and love.

Peking Thom said...

Thanks so much for your insightful descriptions of another "time gone by". (I was born in 50's) It's a rare thing, my unabashed laughter, but you my friend, made me laugh, and that is priceless

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