The Invention and History of Bubble Gum

Sugary Treat a Childhood Staple Since 1928

4 girls chewing bubble gum

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Chewing gum has a history that spans as far back as the ancient Greeks, who chewed the resin from mastic trees. But it wasn't until 1928 that Walter Diemer happened upon just the right gum recipe to make the very first bubble gum, a special type of chewing gum that allows the chewer to blow big pink bubbles.

Earlier Attempts

Diemer might have invented bubble gum, but he wasn't the first person who wanted to make gum bubbles. There were earlier attempts at making bubble gum in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but these bubble gums did not sell well because they were considered too wet and usually broke before a good bubble was formed.

Diemer's Bubble Gum

Diemer gets the credit for inventing the first successful type of bubble gum. At the time, 23-year-old Diemer was an accountant for Fleer Chewing Gum Company, and he experimented with new gum recipes in his spare time. Diemer thought it was an accident when he hit upon a formula that was less sticky and more flexible than other types of chewing gum, characteristics that allowed a chewer to make bubbles (even if this discovery took him a year of failed attempts.) Then Diemer actually did have an accident: He lost the recipe the day after his discovery and it took him four months to figure it out again.

Why Pink?

Diemer used a pink dye for his new gum because pink was the only color available at the Fleer Chewing Gum Company. Pink remains the industry standard for bubble gum.

Dubble Bubble

To test his new recipe, Diemer took 100 samples of the new gum to a nearby store, selling it for a penny apiece. It sold out in a single day. Realizing they had a new, popular type of gum, the owners of Fleer marketed Diemer's new gum as "Dubble Bubble."

To help sell the new bubble gum, Diemer himself taught salespeople how to blow bubbles so that they, in turn, could teach potential customers. Sales broke $1.5 million in the first year.

In 1930, packages including a "Fleer Funnies" color comic featuring characters Dub and Bub were introduced. In 1950, Dub and Bub were dropped for Pud and his pals. Production of Dubble Bubble was halted during World War II because of a shortage of latex and sugar needed for manufacturing. Thomas Adams is credited with inventing a machine that mass produced chewing gum.

Dubble Bubble remained the only bubble gum on the market in the United States until Bazooka bubble gum appeared after World War II, with the competing comic Bazooka Joe.

Evolution of Bubble Gum

You can now buy bubble gum in the original sugary pink form, as a small piece wrapped in paper, or as gumballs. And it now comes in a variety of flavors. Besides the original, you can get bubble gum in grape, apple, and watermelon. Gumballs come in original flavor plus blue raspberry, cotton candy, cinnamon apple, green apple, cinnamon, fancy fruit, and watermelon. Plus you can get gumballs that look like baseballs or smiley faces.