Say it ain’t so, Joe

a bazooka joe opening picWell, not exactly Joe.

You see, it seems “from now on” is such a relative term. And for you, “from now on” means until the end of the year.

After that – I hate to be the one to burst your bubble – you’ll be gone. Not completely, according to your maker, Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of the Topps Company. But that’s when you’ll be retired. Oh, you and some of your gang will show up now and then. Not in the Bazooka Comics insert that’s been the inner wrapper of the pink chewing chunk since 1953, but on new inserts in the “re-imagined” Bazooka Bubble Gum packages. Call them cameo appearances.

A moment of silence, please, for Bazooka Joe, et. al. Gum-popping encouraged, of course.

A moment of silence please for Bazooka Joe, et. al. Gum-popping encouraged, of course.

The brand’s getting an overhaul – out with the old logo, packaging – and you.

And the comics? They go with you. They’re being replaced, according to the company, with “brainteasers.” Like “List 10 comic book heroes named after animals.” Wow. And activities, like instructions on how to fold the wrapper into an airplane. Shazam. And there will be codes, when entered at the website, BazookaJoe.com, which will unlock things like videos and video games.

Sure does blow to be a fading bubble gum star, Joe.

But I remember when. The good old days. You remember? Sure you do. Back when I was just a kid playing Little League Baseball and you were only a penny. Back when my mom would drop me off at the field for a game. She’d hand me a dime. Just one thin dime.

But it was all I needed.

I’d hold that dime in one hand, my folded glove in the other, and go straight to the concession stand behind the home plate backstop fence. Best seat in the house, for the moms running the stand, I’ll bet. And besides third base, best place at the field for me. That’s because lined up side-by-side, from one end of the big front window to the other, were giant, clear jars chocked-full of candy. All for just a penny apiece.

Now do you remember? I knew it’d come back to you. I’d buy three of you, two root beer barrels and five two-foot-long strands of red shoestring licorice. Not the black ones – stained your teeth. Turned off the chicks in the stands. I’d load up my uniform pockets, adjust my cap, tap-clean the cleats on the backstop fence, slip on the glove. Done. Complete. I was locked-and-loaded for whatever came my way for the rest of the day and the game. Whether it came on the ground, through the air … at my head.

Come to think of it, I ask you – where can you buy a meal like that for a kid these days for 10 cents? Damn straight – nowhere.

And I’m not talking just about nutrition for the young, immature body. There was more. Packed inside and wrapped around every piece of Bazooka bubble gum was the real prize – Bazooka Joe, his gang and his comic. Printed on that little piece of slippery paper in full, rich color. Every one was food for the young, immature mind.

Dig through your kid’s next bowl of organic, free-range granola and see if you find something like this:

a bazooka joe declarationGo ahead. I dare you.

Or examine the box of your kid’s sugar-free, gluten-free, chocolate-free, lint-free, taste-free something-chip cookies, inside and out, and tell me you’ve found something even remotely resembling this:

a bazooka joe old cartoonI can’t hear you …

And when you held a Bazooka Joe comic in your hands, you were not just getting some of the finest examples of the corniest pre-adolescent humor known to childhood, but words of wisdom too. Bazooka fortunes, such as: “Unless you are cautious you could be heading for an accident.”

Soon, these Bazooka Joe words to the unwise will be gone. But they’ll eerily come back to you someday – as you watch your care-free-and-unworldly child walk straight into a wall. And never know what hit him.

You think of Bazooka Joe then and say to yourself:  If only … he could have known better.

Notice too that each comic also came with special offers, unavailable anywhere else. You see a lot of 22-carat – not 14-, not 24- – gold rings with your initial on them offered for just 125 Bazooka comics and NO MONEY (Not valid where contrary to state laws. Offer expires June 30, 1955)???

Didn’t think so. Type that item into the search on ebay or Amazon – see what you get. I’ll bet you a big, fat “Huh?”

After December 31, you’ll never find anything like it, anywhere. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No-sucha-lucka. And what’s that mean for all of the “healthy”, all-natural, no-preservatives-added children in the world?

They’re going to suffer because of it.

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6 thoughts on “Say it ain’t so, Joe

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