When I was growing up, every kid I knew chewed bubble gum. We were either trading Topps baseball cards and chomping on the thin slice of gum that came in every package, or peeling the paper off a chunk of Bazooka just before heading out to second base.
Now, according to the New York Times, bubble gum has fallen on hard times. But, the gum brand of Bazooka Joe and his sidekick Mort, is planning a comeback.
Kids aren’t chewing as much gum as they used to. A marketing company told the Bazooka folks that only 7 per cent of children aged 6 to 12 were aware of Joe and Mort, the cartoon characters who starred in the sometimes corny comic inserts that hugged the bright pink squares of gum inside the outer package.
Maybe Bazooka Joe, who always wears a ball cap and eye-patch and his pal Mort — always with his turtleneck up over his mouth — could use a makeover aimed at elevating image awareness with this current generation of gum poppers.
Instead, Joe and Mort are all but disappearing into the background in the brand revamp. Never fear, though. They’ll make occasional appearances on the new inserts, but not in comic strip mode. They’ll simply be illustrations. Instead of comics, chewers will get brain teasers and activities and codes which — you guessed it — can be entered at the brand’s website to see videos and games.
Bazooka, the chew choice of boomers, was introduced in 1947. How can any of us forget the deep pink, white, and blue color scheme and geometric design? The new, re-imagined Bazooka will have new colors and design—fuchsia and yellow, with the splattered-paint look of graffiti.
When my dad sold it at the Goodman Candy Company in Glasgow, Ky., each single square piece of it cost a penny; the new package will feature 10 pieces of gum, five each of the original flavor and a new flavor, blue raspberry. Cost? Who knows?
Good luck, Bazooka Joe, hope we’ll see you at the ballpark!