The Untold Truth Of Bubble Yum Gum

Is there anything that can trigger nostalgia, remind us of the simple, carefree, and fun-loving days of childhood more than a big wad of juicy, chewy bubble gum? So many summer days spent smacking, blowing the biggest bubbles possible, and sometimes having them pop right in your face ... the good old days. We all had our favorite packs as kids, and there is still serious debate over which bubble gum brand reigns supreme. But for so many of us, the go-to chewing gum was Bubble Yum

Bubble Yum was a game-changer when its packs of large, soft pieces of chewing gum hit the market in the '70s. It garnered fierce competition and a lot of drama, all the while boosting bubble-blowing everywhere, perhaps to the chagrin of parents and teachers. Mashed dug up all the sticky details on this old school favorite. This is the untold truth of Bubble Yum gum.

Bubble Yum gum has been around almost 50 years

Any millennial or their parents who are reading this likely remember the heyday of Bubble Yum gum. But you may not know that this household name was actually created in a small town in Missouri by a stay-at-home mom, rather than in some fancy candy factory. As the story goes — and was detailed in the marketing book "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" — a homemaker in Fisk, Missouri created her own version of what she called "rubber bubblegum" and gave some to her son to share with his classmates at school. It quickly picked up some serious attention, and she sold the recipe to the Life Savers company in the early 1970s (via American Goodies). According to The Hershey Company, Bubble Yum's current parent company, the brand officially hit the market in 1973, and it quickly blew consumers away, so to speak.

Bubble Yum was the first soft bubble gum on the market

When Bubble Yum was first introduced to the masses, it fascinated consumers who had never seen — or rather chewed — anything quite like it. Bubble Yum was the first soft bubble gum to hit the market. Prior to that, most chewing gum, like retro Bazooka or Double Bubble, for example, had a much harder, tough consistency that required some serious jaw action to make it enjoyable (via Candy Favorites). The researchers at the Life Savor company knew that consumers would be interested in an alternative that was easier on the mouth, and kept its flavor longer (via New York Times). 

With Bubble Yum, people could chew with ease. The product helped spur a major resurgence in bubble gum sales in the late '70s, the New York Times reported. Bubble Yum's enormous success also led to a slew of new competitors rising up, including the likes of Bubblicious and Hubba Bubba (via The Oklahoman). And today you'll find dozens of bubble gum brands to choose from — you can blow bubbles to your heart's content, without an aching jaw, and you have Bubble Yum to thank for it.

Bubble Yum has been owned by several big name snack brands

Bubble Yum itself is arguably a household name — at least, it definitely used to be when most millennials were growing up. But the gum has also had some star power backing throughout its 50-year history under parent companies that were household names themselves, and still are today.

Bubble Yum was first introduced and marketed by Life Savers, Inc. for several years. In 1981, Life Savers– and all of the subsidiary brands under it — were bought by snack food giant Nabisco (via Mondelēz International). Then, at the turn of the new millennium, Nabisco sold off all of its breath mint and chewing gum brands as it underwent several structural changes after being acquired by Philip Morris International, and eventually merged with the Kraft food brand. In 2000, the mint and gum brands, including Bubble Yum, were all purchased by the Hershey Company for $135 million, at the time making it the third-largest gum manufacturer(per the New York Times). Hershey still makes and distributes Bubble Yum to this day, and remains in the top five gum manufacturers in the world (via Market Research Reports).

You probably recognize Bubble Yum by its mascot

When you think of Bubble Yum, it's a good chance that a funky duck is one of the first things that comes to mind. While a big, pink wad of bubble gum pretty much looks the same no matter which brand you pick out, Bubble Yum has captured the attention of bubble-blowing adolescents and impulsive shoppers in the check-out line for decades thanks to Floyd D. Duck. The brand's longtime mascot is a "free-spirited" pierced, punk rock duck, who isn't afraid to stand out. And any true childhood fan knows that Bubble Yum isn't Bubble Yum without Floyd D. Duck.

Floyd D. Duck made his mascot debut in the late '90s (via AdAge), starring in a TV commercial campaign aimed at teens, encouraging them to be themselves with a signature tagline — "blow your own bubble." Since then, he's appeared on all of Bubble Yum's packaging, bursting out of a bright pink bubble, clad in a spiked collar.

There was once a rumor that Bubble Yum gum was made with spider eggs

In the world of business, you don't just show up on the scene and completely overturn the market with your innovative new product without facing some swift backlash. Such was the case for Bubble Yum, when its soft gum became quickly beloved by bubble blowers young and old. As Candy Favorites tells it, around 1977, rumors started circulating, first among schoolchildren, that Bubble Yum gum was so soft and chewable because it was made with a secret ingredient — spider eggs.

According to Snopes — which did a full investigation of the rumors and has confirmed that they are totally false — horror stories were shared like gospel, including one of a girl waking up with webs all over her face, and another of several children dying after swallowing the gum (spider eggs or not, don't do that!). It was a nightmare for Bubble Yum, which saw sales start to plummet. So parent company Life Savers ended up spending around $100,000 to run a full-on counter-campaign to combat these rumors. Full-page ads were splashed across dozens of newspapers around the country. Eventually, the web of lies was untangled, the rumors died down and sales of Bubble Yum went back up.

Bubble Yum is the ultimate gum for blowing bubbles

The idea behind Bubble Yum's softer texture, and the thing that made it such a hit when it first came out, was just how easy it was to blow bubbles with. Bubble Yum was specifically designed to make bigger bubbles, reports the New York Times, which is obviously half the fun — until that big bubble pops all over your face. That's exactly why Bubble Yum "revolutionized the bubble gum industry,” Lou Lassus, editor of Candy Marketer Quarterly told the New York Times in 1983. Bubble Yum gum's bubble-blowing potential even led to an official Bubble Yum World Series Blowout that took place annually starting in the late '90s (via Chicago Tribune). It's unclear how long these blowouts went on for, but it is clear that Bubble Yum and blowing bubbles go hand in hand.

Even today, with tons of bubble gum brands to take your pick from, many still argue Bubble Yum is the best gum out there for blowing bubbles, even if they aren't always the biggest (like this dedicated student). Some product reviews call it the greatest gum for blowing bubbles ever, but you'll have to chew on that one for yourself and decide.

Bubble Yum gum probably appeals more to your inner child

Here's the thing — when you were a kid, and things like consuming as much sugar as possible, and winning all the bubble blowing contests were top priorities, Bubble Yum was the perfect gum. For all of us out there who aren't kids, not so much. As one Influenster put it, "as an adult this gum is awful. Full of sugar, over sweet, and horrible texture." And as Thrillist notes, Bubble Yum pieces are huge, and cause you to salivate quickly, making it really hard to talk. So popping a piece before a meeting or a phone call is pretty much impossible. Interestingly, countless reviews of Bubble Yum pointedly refer to the memories of childhood the gum brings back, rather than the joy of chewing it today. So maybe for grown millennials, Bubble Yum is best left in the past, or with the youngsters.

Bubble Yum was an early gig for budding actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Before our favorite celebrities became super famous, they were regular people, who had to get their start somewhere. And for a lot of them, that start was in commercials. Millennial teen heartthrob turned award-winning artist, Leonardo DiCaprio, was no exception. His prestigious career started when he was just a kid, doing humble TV ads. And one of those ads happened to be for Bubble Yum in the late 1980s. 

In the commercial (via YouTube), which reportedly aired in 1988, adorable teenage DiCaprio can be seen holding up a stick of Bubble Yum gum next to a '80s-style boombox, both of which he says are "known for blasts." To prove it, DiCaprio then blows a massive bubble with his Bubble Yum gum, and that bubble blasts right alongside the speakers. To be more specific, the bubble pops as the massive boombox speakers explode and then DiCaprio smoothly delivers the tagline, "Bubble Yum keeps it poppin'." Talk about natural talent, right?

Bubble Yum gum is beloved by NFL coach Pete Carroll

Bubble Yum has fans far and wide, young and old. And while big pink hunks of chewing gum are more typically expected on the baseball diamond, you might see it on the football field as well. That is, if you're watching a Seattle Seahawks game. Turns out, head coach Pete Carroll has a major affinity for chewing gum while on the job. Fans have noticed, so USA Today decided to find out exactly which pieces Carroll was popping. The paper spoke with the Seahawks' former statistician Todd Nielson, who revealed that Carroll specifically likes the 5-packs of original Bubble Yum.

USA Today assessed that this choice says a lot about Carroll as a coach — in a good way — writing "Bubble Yum is strong (in flavor) and reliable (in its structure), which is what you want in a head coach. If he had gone with a brand like Fruit Stripe, the Seahawks might have to reassess the head coaching position."

Bubble Yum gum has expanded way beyond its original flavor

Bubble Yum in its original glory is enough to induce nostalgia for childhood, and a hankering to blow some big bubbles. But of course, the company didn't stop there. As Bubble Yum got increasingly popular, and competition started to grow, Bubble Yum started rolling out a range of new flavors. You had the fruity flavors like Watermelon, Tropical Punch, and Grape (which Ranker votes as the best one of all). There's also the sour selection, including Sour Cherry, Sour Apple Berry, and Sour Strawberry Lemonade. And you've got the more unique concoctions like Cotton Candy, Yellin' Melons, and even Chocolate. 

Sadly, it's hard to get your hands on most of these flavors today. Currently, the Hershey Company still makes packs of original Bubble Yum along with one other flavor, Jolly Rancher Blue Raspberry. It's worth noting that you can find a few of the other flavors, like Cotton Candy, in online searches, if you get lucky. But it's your call on whether that years-old gum is better for chewing or just collecting.

Bubble Yum sales took a blow during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for businesses and industries across the board. The same is true for gum brands like Bubble Yum who saw their bubble burst when it came to profit. Candy & Snack Today reported a roughly 30% drop in sales in the chewing gum sector during the peak of lockdowns in 2020. And you can blame quarantine above all else for changing our shopping and snacking habits (via Wired).

For one, impulse buys like gum, mints, candy — all those little things you really don't need but end up grabbing anyways while you're waiting in the checkout line — took major sales hits as people stayed home more, and went out shopping less (via Reuters). It's a lot easier to resist that temptation when you're having your groceries delivered. Secondly, if you're staying in all the time, or social distancing and wearing masks when you do go out, what do you need things like gum and mints for? No one can smell your breath from that far away (hopefully). The Hershey Company specifically reported a more than 20% drop in sales for mints and gum, including Bubble Yum, in the fourth quarter of 2020 (via Business Insider).

Now that masks are coming off, people are gathering, and we keep moving towards a normal, post-pandemic world, time will tell if we return to all of our old habits, including chewing bubble gum, in the same way as before.