Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Say It Ain't So, Bazooka Joe
December 1, 2012 3:06 AM   Subscribe

What adults may remember best about Bazooka, however, is disappearing. The tiny comic strip featuring the eyepatch-wearing brand mascot Bazooka Joe that has been wrapped around each piece of gum since 1953 is being replaced.
posted by chavenet (49 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
This doesn't bode well for Michael Eisner's Bazooka Joe movie.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:23 AM on December 1, 2012


What I remember most about Bazooka Gum was the horrible acidy taste. The corniness of the joke took your mind off the taste of the gum in a sort of synergy. I imagine the new design will fail at this. From the pictures, it would only make me long for a faster death.

To be fair, however, I am not the audience. I have two eyes, and I can get my shirt all the way over my head.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:28 AM on December 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


Geez, I was fearful the initial ad was a harbinger of the replacement.
posted by buzzman at 3:28 AM on December 1, 2012


The Bazooka Joe characters linked above look different than the Bazooka Joe I remember.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:30 AM on December 1, 2012


Can they kill Pud too?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:33 AM on December 1, 2012


What I remember most about Bazooka is how the slight powder coating would enhance the dryness and stiffness when you first put it in your mouth, as if to deliberately start off stale so you'd be prepared for the dry, stiff and tasteless glob you'd be left with after about thirty seconds of chewing, when you'd depleted all of its flavor and elasticity. It was always the last thing left in the bottom of the Halloween trick or treat bag, eaten only after you'd finished the Now and Laters that always had the wrappers stuck to them so you had to eat the paper in order to eat the candy.
posted by Balonious Assault at 3:36 AM on December 1, 2012 [32 favorites]


I liked the character but always wanted to know his backstory. Did he lose his eye fighting pirates, or while winning the little league championship, or in an unfortunate fireworks accident? Or all three simultaneously perhaps?
posted by newdaddy at 4:14 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought Bazooka Joe had died out everywhere but Israel, where for some reason, someone was still putting it out with comic strips in Hebrew. The only Bazooka Joe gum I've ever seen (on a visit to New York) was the Israeli one, imported.
posted by acb at 4:22 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I remember most about Bazooka Gum was the horrible acidy taste.

You actually chewed it? How? I always assumed it was just packing material for the wrapper.
posted by tommasz at 4:31 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mort's Face Revealed!
posted by fairmettle at 5:01 AM on December 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, they seem to be doing everything wrong, so I guess this is soon to be another thing I can feel slightly nostalgic about (but not very nostalgic, because I didn't actually like the stuff). What are they doing wrong?

First, they're rearranging the deck chairs. The packaging is not the reason for the decline in sales. The product is. Kids today like gummy candy, not endlessly-chewy rubberoid material that initially feels slightly gritty and the taste of which soon disappears to leave you with a sticky object that you have to dispose of somehow. Also, chewing gum makes you look like a cow.

Second, they are forcing even those who presumably buy the stuff because they like it to also buy a different flavor that they may not like. This is stupid.

Third, they are increasing the size of a portion, so the kid now has an even bigger wad resisting his chewing efforts, covering more of his face when he blows a bubble that pops, and probably making it harder to dispose of the leftover.

Goodbye, Bazooka Bubble Gum.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:07 AM on December 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


The point wasn't the taste - the point was being able to blow bubbles bigger than your head.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:29 AM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


The ONLY things that Bazooka gum has (had?) going for it was iconic nostalgic branding, and the comics. You didn't buy that shit for the gum. Bazooka was nostalgic and retro when I was a kid. They are burning the only assets that they have, to become an invisible player in a dead or dying industry. It's like the makers of Cracker Jack deciding to rename it C-Jax 2000, and replacing the (already much shittier than you remember) prize with a vitamin.

Great work, gang!
posted by dirtdirt at 5:39 AM on December 1, 2012 [20 favorites]


I'm not sure the point was even the bubbles. At least for me, I liked the little comics--they were the only thing that made Bazooka different than, say, Double Bubble. If you really wanted bubbles, you went for one of the bigger, chewier gums.

I do like how the marketers assume that the way to make the gum more relevant to today's kids is removing the fun jokes and replacing them with an 80's highschool yearbook graphic design. Because little kids loooove fuschia Ben-Day dots!
posted by mittens at 5:41 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can't they just update the character a little bit? Maybe give him the same sort of "dark 'n gritty" reboot so many other comic icons have gotten? Perhaps today's kids would respond more to Rocket-Propelled-Grenade Joe, or Predator-Drone Joe.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:41 AM on December 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes! The gum was the worst, just as hard and tasteless as could be. I probably have not had a piece of Bazooka Joe gum in my mouth for over 30 years but I can still remember the taste and texture vividly. Some things scar you for life.

They are replacing the comic strip with brainteasers and origami techniques? Is this really what kids want?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:42 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the NYT article:

the new Bazooka design ... “takes visual cues from comic books and skateboard culture and graffiti” and that it “feels right for today.”

So, today is 1997?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 5:45 AM on December 1, 2012 [18 favorites]


Granted, for Bazooka Joe today used to mean 1958, so they're getting closer.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 5:46 AM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


As a kid, the only time I ever got a piece of Bazooka was at the barbershop. The barber would give kids a piece of Bazooka right after their haircut. I always hated the gum (well, any gum, really. I'm not a chewer) but was always fascinated by that damned comic. Even as a kid, I thought it was lame, but still liked the surprise of getting a new gag every time.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:52 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Help! I'm trapped in a bubble gum factory!
posted by 4ster at 6:10 AM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


:: leaps backward out of the frame in astonishment ::
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:11 AM on December 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought Bazooka gum only existed to make the gum that came with hockey cards taste good by comparison. Speaking of which...

> but I can still remember the taste and texture vividly. Some things scar you for life.

I will (fondly) remember the smell of early '80s hockey cards - gum dust, cardboard and probably some kind of chemical involved in the printing process - until the day I die.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:12 AM on December 1, 2012


but still liked the surprise of getting a new gag every time.

Well, for some value of "new." I am pretty sure I got a series of jokes about Warren G. Harding one summer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:15 AM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's like the makers of Cracker Jack deciding to rename it C-Jax 2000

dirtdirt, you're a marketing genius!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:19 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


> the corniness of the joke took your mind off the taste of the gum in a sort of synergy.

Hey, Colbert said that!
posted by Burhanistan at 6:24 AM on December 1, 2012


Amen, dirtdirt. It sucks when the one thing that differentiates you as a company becomes less effective, but it's still the one thing that differentiates you as a company. If you remove that, and change the color scheme to be identical to everyone else's, then what's left? You'll just be ignored because of your inferior product, and you won't even enjoy the benefits of nostalgia.

What they need to do is double down on it... the comics are already lame and vapid, so make that your signature, like New Yorker cartoons for the common man. Stick to the old-style red, white, and blue packaging, but spruce it up a bit so that the antiquated branding becomes Classic branding, something that could double as a prop on Mad Men.

Or, you know, just make the gum itself less gross and change nothing else.

Marketing is not The Solution To All Problems. You only think it is because marketers are good at marketing that idea.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:27 AM on December 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought Bazooka gum only existed to make the gum that came with hockey cards taste good by comparison.

I was thinking the same thing. But I don't think anyone I knew was desperate enough to eat the collectable card gum. That was directly deposited in the trash.

Today's gum really is far superior to the gum of my youth. Remember how bad gumball machine gum was? An initial burst of super chemical sweetness and then just a big wad of putty in your mouth.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:28 AM on December 1, 2012


> Remember how bad gumball machine gum was?

I think one of the first lessons I learned as a consumer was to avoid the vending machines in grocery and department store lobbies. The gum, candy and toys always sucked, if there *was* something cool (like, say, stickers with NHL team logos) the odds were against you getting what you actually wanted, and if you chose M&Ms or Smarties your quarter only bought you like half a handful.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:44 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked the flavor of the gum, but I also like the flavor of cough syrup, so my palate probably shouldn't be allowed to make decisions.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:00 AM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


'You don't have to be alone Joe'.

Caution: loud, yet abrasive.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 7:15 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


They should repackage the gum as Ermahgerd Bahzooker gum and manufacture it so that instead of a comic, each gum packet comes printed with a random image scraped from reddit.com/r/funny.
posted by oulipian at 8:50 AM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


My jaw hurts just thinking about this stuff. I was the naive kid who would keep chewing bazooka well after it had turned into rubber (i.e. beyond the 45 second mark), thinking there was no way a company was selling gum that was good(ish) for less than a minute. I figured I must be missing something about the appeal, and if I just kept chewing, maybe I would figure it out. It's a miracle I didn't have TMJ disorder by the age of 10.
posted by vytae at 9:00 AM on December 1, 2012


At one point when I was growing up in Nashville I got invited over to Neil Diamond's bass player's house because I went to school with his son. I was wearing a bazooka joe t-shirt that I had gotten by saving wrappers up and mailing them in - I'm a sucker for mail order stuff - and I only talked to the head of the house for a minute, about Bazooka Joe bubble gum. (He was also a fan.) It was kind of a surreal conversation to have with a person who was vaguely but mostly tangentially famous. Keep in mind, this was the 90's, so this was the nadir of Neil Diamond's career, and I kind of knew who he was, but only kind of knowing him meant that I really only kind of knew his bass player.

The only other thing I remember about that night was that there were a lot of gold records in the house but if you looked at all of them they were from Canada. There didn't seem to be a single American gold record. I'm not sure how they divvy gold records up between band members, but it really looked like Neil was bogarting the good ones for himself and leaving bassy the crumbs.
posted by Kiablokirk at 10:03 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


At least for me, I liked the little comics--they were the only thing that made Bazooka different

The main attraction was trying to figure out what Mort was actually wearing and why. The next best thing was that there were not just tiny comic pages, but tiny comic pages coated with wax. Personally, more than the gum, I preferred to chew on the comics.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:04 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how they divvy gold records up between band members, but it really looked like Neil was bogarting the good ones for himself and leaving bassy the crumbs.

They don’t split them up. Everyone involved can get one in their own name, but someone has to pay for each one.
posted by bongo_x at 10:24 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can they kill Pud too?

The first one through the door is stepping into a coffin.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:37 AM on December 1, 2012


Ermahgerd Bahzooker gum Ermahgerd Berblegerm
posted by oulipian at 10:53 AM on December 1, 2012


Why was a child playing with a rocket launcher in the first place? They should replace it with something positive like Homeopathy. Holistic Medicine Joe?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:54 AM on December 1, 2012


Those Bazooka Joe comics are at the center of one of the most vivid memories of my middle childhood.

I chewed vast quantities of that gum (hey, remember The Blob? that movie gave me almost weekly nightmares for years even though I never actually saw it, and it only now occurs to me that there might be a connection), and during my pyromaniac phase, when I was by myself, (which was most of the time) I always used to set the comic on fire, release it, and watch it drift slowly to the ground. Mostly it was completely consumed by the time it landed, and a bare handful of times it had soared upward for a bit before coming down, and that's what I always hoped to achieve.

I didn't do this in the house, but one day I was lighting them up on the flagstone-paved but enclosed back porch because the wind was blowing too hard to do it in the back yard, and I have a very clear memory of watching faint red embers spiral down into a large wooden box which held my outdoor toys, including my beloved leather punching bag that I treated as a tetherball and hung by a rope from a iron pole in the yard to pound on for an hour on days when there wasn't too much snow on the ground. I did consider the possibility of fire, but dismissed it because by then, I had spent uncounted hours trying to set things on fire in all kinds of circumstances and knew, or thought I knew, just how pitifully ineffectual the embers of paper always were.

Then I dug holes in the side yard for a while until I heard an odd kind of breathy explosive sound, which could have been a window blowing out, I guess, and ran around to see the back wall of the porch engulfed in flames. I remembered a nearly full small rain barrel right next to where I had been digging, and somehow managed to pick it up, carry it into the porch and dump it into the remains of the box and along the base of the wall, getting my only burn as I pitched forward with the barrel and had to catch myself on my hands against hot stone. I followed up with the hose, and by the time the fire department arrived the fire was almost all out, but that didn't stop them from ripping the entire back wall away, which really upset me because it made the whole thing look so much worse, and I already thought I would be sent away to some juvenile detention facility for this. But I wasn't punished. My parents didn't even take my matches away.

I think I was seven, just out of second grade and about to turn eight, because I still couldn't read the Bazooka Joe comics at that time. And speaking of reading, wouldn't you guess that was part of the motivation for those comics in the first place, to encourage kids to learn to read?
posted by jamjam at 12:00 PM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes yes! I'm dying for a dark, gritty Bazooka Joe reboot. What is Frank Miller doing these days, anyway?
posted by newdaddy at 12:43 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


First, the Unions destroyed Hostess and now they are destroying Bazooka.
posted by JJ86 at 1:01 PM on December 1, 2012


Too bad about the comic, but if they change the flavor ("flavor"?) of Bazooka Joe that can only be a good thing. That is terrible gum. Tastes like slightly sweetened cardboard for about thirty seconds and then morphs into tasteless rubber.
posted by zardoz at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2012


that was part of the motivation for those comics in the first place, to encourage kids to learn to read?
I assume that the purpose of the gum is to encourage kids to see the dentist regularly, because unless you have some seriously healthy chompers, that stuff, being stronger and harder than most bomb-shelter walls, is going to break your damn teeth.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2012


Did he lose his eye fighting pirates, or while winning the little league championship, or in an unfortunate fireworks accident?

no, he got a red ryder BB gun for christmas and he shot his eye out
posted by pyramid termite at 3:46 PM on December 1, 2012


Bazooka has the taste of nostalgia for me too.

My grandparents often ate at Chef's restaurant, since they were from the same "old neighbourhood" as the owner. Nearly every family occasion was held there too. That gum is what came with the check when there were kids at the table, until Chef's started using packaged mints with their logo (sometime in the nineties, I believe) -- but my grandparents would always ask for some gum for us grandkids. We all grew older and some moved away, and our visits to Papa and Grandma's went from weekly to infrequent. But there was always some stale, rock-hard Bazooka in the drawer of the telephone table waiting for us.

We would all, of course, act happy and grateful for it as it carved up the roofs of our mouths. The table moved from the house my grandparents lived in to their senior condo with gum still in it, and even as my grandfather grew blind and less mobile, he could still find some to offer us. The pile gradually dwindled, then became mints which we didn't feel we had to take. I've never had Bazooka from any other source but Chef's and that drawer - and if I ever meet my grandparents in some after-world, they'll probably have some for me. But they'll call it "Bazooka Joe" gum - just like it's "Chicken Chalet" to them, instead of Swiss Chalet.

I'm not sad about it changing, because it was lost to me long ago.
posted by peagood at 3:49 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anyone go through the "wrapped around each piece of gum" link?

This is a blatant statement which is congruent with the theme of family disintergration. Once Bazooka Joe has become President, a very prestigious title whose bearer is a symbol of American values and traditions, immediately displays his rebellion by choosing to disconnect himself from the rest of his family. Also note the fact that, Bazooka Joe, who is intended to be a role model, is also a fraud since the requirements for the presidency include being thirty-five years old. The fact that Bazooka Joe is only a teenager indicates that he is a liar.

posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:06 PM on December 1, 2012


I'm mildly amused that the Charms "Blue Razz berry" Blow Pop I'm currently chewing on (*pop!*), which I got for free with my sandwich at Ike's, is ever so much better a bubble gum qua bubble gum than Bazooka ever was.
posted by Lexica at 7:55 PM on December 1, 2012


Stacy Keach thinks Bazooka Joe shouldn't change.
posted by orme at 5:46 AM on December 2, 2012


Rock-hard Bazooka was best enjoyed after first putting it in your front pants pocket for at least an hour to warm it up and soften it enough to get those first chews going. Also, if you went for the mainline experience and chewed two pieces at once, you were rewarded with a mouthful of pure, tooth-corroding sugar rush. It made for a fantastic five minutes or so during which nothing else in the world mattered.

Once the sugar was chewed away and the gum firmed up a bit, it was possible to produce dozens of serial mini-bubbles that, when cracked inside a closed mouth, sounded like dozens of little bones breaking (or so I was told by the many people I annoyed with this trick over the years). Most gratifying.

For a while in the 60s there were some pretty extreme bubble gums available. The most intense was probably "Big Wad," which was exactly that: a big hunk of future dental work in a wrapper. But Bazooka was always my favorite.

Sigh. Good times.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:29 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older The Nature of Computation...  |  The African King With A Multi-... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments