The Invention and History of Bubble Gum

Sugary Treat a Childhood Staple Since 1928

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Kids almost universally love to chew gum, and especially that sugary pink variety known as bubble gum. Blowing bubbles is a sort of childhood rite of passage. Adults likely have outgrown bubble gum but many still chew -- and blow bubbles -- daily.

Chewing gum has a history that spans as far back as the ancient Greeks, who chewed the resin from mastic trees. However, 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 make those big pink bubbles.

Icky Attempts at Creating Bubble Gum

Diemer might have invented bubble gum, but he wasn't the first person who wanted to make gum bubbles. There were early attempts at making bubble gum in the late 1800s and early 1900s; however, 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 on 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; it just wouldn't seem like the right stuff in any other color.

Dubble Bubble
To test his new recipe, Diemer took samples of the new gum to a nearby store, and it sold out in a single day.

Realizing they had a new, wonderful type of gum, the owners of Fleer Chewing Gum Company 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. Dubble Bubble remained the only bubble gum on the market in the United States until Bazooka bubble gum appeared after World War II.

Evolution of Bubble Gum

You can now buy bubble gum in the original form, a small piece of sugary pink wonderfulness wrapped in paper, or as gumballs. And it now comes in all sorts of flavors. Besides 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, just for fun.