I’m not much for gum chewing. In fact, I’m not at all for gum chewing. I honestly cannot remember the last time I stuck a stick of Dentyne in my maw, or tried to avoid crunching the candy coating on a Chiclets.
I don’t chew gum because I don’t really like to do so, and I also have an irritating propensity to snap gum – an exasperating tendency shared by too many chewers – driving anyone in my immediate vicinity, like assorted wives into such less-than-friendly explosions of “Would you shut the fuck up with the gum!”
I was never much for gum chewing, even as a kid. Gum struck me as a waste of money since the flavor was always lost within minutes. And, once I had mastered the time-honored art of blowing bubbles with my good old Dubble Bubble, and had gotten a few bits stuck on hair and clothing, I let that slide and took up the much more agreeable practice of smoking.
Double Bubble did have some tiny virtues not given off by regular gum, however. Not only could you blow bubbles, but there was also literature contained within the little rectangular packages. There was a little folded up comic strip containing the adventures of Pud and the gang. Pud was a little fat kid in a striped shirt who bore an unintentional – I guess – masturbatory name of the sort that reduced us to gales of laughter much like the time all the boys collapsed with mirth in a classroom film that featured a kid named ‘Dink’. You know, the sort of unintentional smut that doesn’t make allowances for transliteration nuances, which is why Brits always smirk when somebody from North America proclaims, “She slipped and then she fell on her fanny.” “My God but that must have hurt,” will proclaim somebody from the UK.
When I was a kid I kind of liked Chiclets because of the candy coating, though the flavor didn’t last much longer than it did with regular stick gum. But, it seemed like you were getting an extra treat. My cousin once, when we were about 7 years old bragged that he could chew an entire package of Chiclets at one go. And he did. He was left with a huge wad of gum, but the flavor still departed.
However, my history with gum isn’t the point of this essay, what is the point is the chewing gum wars that seem to have permeated television advertising. What’s going on here? Has there been a paucity of gum chewing that has prompted manufacturers to bring out scads of variations on the theme that I’ve never heard of?
There’s one brand where either goons or a German-accented crypto-Nazi go around chasing some poor sod and then proceed to whack him on the head to get him to expel his gum. The ads are violent, nasty and utterly pointless. I suppose it’s something to do with the suggestion that the flavor last for a very long time and therefore chewers don’t indulge in the disgusting habit of spitting it out on the street once the flavor is gone. I suppose it wouldn’t serve a gum manufacturer to bring out a product in which the flavor never went away, because then a body could stick it on the bedpost and take it up again in the morning. I mean, we did that as kids even though the flavor had long departed.
Then there is another with some ‘layered’ gum in which a sappy teenage girl entreats the parents of a child for whom she has been baby sitting to pay her in gum rather than money. Then a whole bunch of service type people come out of the woodwork to also ask to be paid in gum. All that strikes me is what were they doing with the sitter when the folks were away. It’s a question that begs to be asked considering the illogic of the premise.
But, the most egregious offender in nouveau gum advertising is for good old Dentyne. Now, Dentyne is a traditional and it was one I quite favored when I grew past ‘candy’ stage. Cinnamon Dentyne had a bit of spunk. It was also, according to legend, the brand chewed by 1930s bandito John Dillinger, and if that didn’t make it cool, I don’t know what would.
But now Dentyne is running ads that are kind of suggestive in which the idle viewer is initially led to believe they’re talking about (heh-heh) condoms. “Uh – do you have ‘something’ ? queries the hot-to-go young babe to her horny swain, among other innuendos that are about as subtle as a BP oil rig. Who the hell is Dentyne advertising for? Is our society now corrupt enough that they believe this will bring in the tiny tots. I mean, even today, that is the predominant group of gum chewers. Oh, and as a message to those who are confused by the ads, Dentyne does not prevent unwanted pregnancy or the transmission of STDs.
There are other ads that fall into the same confusing realms that can only make me long for good old sticks of Juicy Fruit, Chiclets peppermint, or Beech Nut.
Too much to ask for, I guess.