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Bazooka gum is not only an Iconic American candy but is a favorite of many children worldwide. Its appeal is not only the gum itself but the included cartoons and fortune. No matter what flavor is chosen, any child can tell you, all great bubble blowing contests begin with a piece of Bazooka.
When you read this article, you can learn:
- The Science of Gum
- The History of Bazooka Gum
- Bazooka in Israeli Culture
- Kosher Certification
The Science of Gum
Gum. It is fun to chew and comes in many great flavors. But how does it work? And why does the flavor fade so quickly? It is all a matter of simple science. Although each company has its own formula for its gum, the base of all gum is made up of three types of ingredients. The resin is the primary part that enables you to chew the gum. The wax is added to soften the gum and make it fun and easy to chew. And finally, the elastomer adds flexibility and makes it possible to blow enormous bubbles.
The tasty part of the gum is created by trapping flavor and sweetener in the product in such a way that the flavor is released slowly extending the taste for a long period of time. As you chew, saliva dissolves the flavor and sweetener spreading over your tongue as you swallow. However, the base does not dissolve and this is why the flavor is lost before the life of the gum.
The History of Bazooka Gum
Bazooka gum was introduced in 1947 just after World War II by the Bazooka Candy, a division of The Topps company. Topps was an industry leader in the making of baseball cards. The gum came in red, white, and blue patriotic packaging and only cost 1 cent to purchase.
In 1949 Bazooka gum introduced its first mascot, “Atom Bubble Boy.” This character could travel the world at a moment’s notice by blowing enormous bubbles with his gum and then floating off to his destination.
In 1953 the gum began including comic strips in the wrapping of each piece. The main character of the comics was Bazooka Joe given his name after a contest opened to the public. He wore a black eye patch and several friends that appeared with him. His group of friends included: Pesty, Hungry Herman, Mort, Toughie, and Jane (Joe’s girlfriend). Bazooka Joe wore current fashions and also made cultural references.
Jay Lynch was the primary writer of the Bazooka Joe cartoons from 1967 until 1990. In total, there were 1,535 comics created for Bazooka gum.
In addition to the comics, Bazooka also included fortunes. One of such fortunes read, “Do not ever be content to follow others. You are born to lead, and you must do so without fear of what may happen.”
The gum was also offered in other flavors such as Strawberry Shake, Cherry Berry, Watermelon Whirl, and Grape Rage.
By 2007, the Bazooka brand was bought by a private equity firm. In a failed attempt, they created a new, more modern look for its packaging which included Day-Glo colors. Bazooka Joe’s clothes also got an update which included sagging jeans.
Five years later, the company removed the comics from the product and instead, added puzzle wrappers with brain teasers.
Learning from the Coca-Cola Company, and from Levis Jeans, Topps recreated throwback packaging bringing back the original colors and wrapping. The wrappers included 48 of the best cartoons from the 1970s and 1980s. The wrappers also included a digital code when using the website, BazookaJoe.com, would unlock additional content.
Bazooka in Israeli Culture
In a book published last year, “The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List,” Bazooka gum makes the list. The author states, “Bazooka gum is, essentially, Jewish Laffy Taffy—except with even more inscrutable jokes.”
It has been produced in Israel since the 1960s by Islico Ltd. located in Tel Aviv. It was then acquired by Elite, an Israeli gum company in the late 1980s. Elite also makes its own brand of sticks of gum in such flavors as peppermint, spearmint, and blackcurrant. At one point, Elite and Strauss, a dairy company merged; they created ice cream with a stick of gum in it. Bazooka gum continues to be manufactured by Elite. The label and the cartoons are translated into Hebrew.
Bazooka gum has become part of the candy given by generations in mishloach manot baskets. These baskets of food, drink, and sweets are sent to family and friends on Purim day. They are meant to ensure everyone has enough food for the Purim meal and to foster love and friendship among Jews and their neighbors. Children older than 6 are encouraged to send mishloach manot baskets to friends, typically including sweets and gum.
Like many cultures, parents and community leaders come up with creative ways to curb the appetite children have for sweets. Bazooka gum at one time was singled out as a treif, a non-kosher food, by the Israeli Haredi community. Some believe the source of this was rabbis trying to prevent overindulgence of candy by children by putting the fear of God into them. Others believe the treif was founded on the opinion that the jokes included in the wrappers were inappropriate.
In order to meet the strict dietary standards set by the Torah, Bazooka gum has had its gum kosher certified. To be certified, the gum had to meet the kashrut, the collective laws that provide the basis for the kosher diet. Laws include which foods are forbidden and permitted. The laws also dictate how foods are processed, manufactured, and prepared prior to consumption.
In 2015 the Israeli Court of Justice awarded Bazooka gum with the Mehadrin certification. This level of certification guarantees that the product has met the most stringent grade of supervision. It is considered the highest grade of kosher.
Bazooka gum is one of the most internationally recognized products on the planet. It has created smiles, laughs, and enjoyment for generations. Next time you travel, carry Bazooka gum, it’s a great way to make a new friend.
Meta. Bazooka gum. Not only an American icon, but a gum loved worldwide. Read on to find out not only the history of Bazooka gum but its importance in Jewish culture.