Gum has been around for centuries. The ancient Greeks chewed sap from mastic trees. The American Indians chewed spruce resin. Men in top hats and women in puffy dresses chewed gum to cure things like stomachaches. Gum wasn't that exciting. But what if gum chewers could blow bubbles while chewing it?
In the late 1920s a factory in Philadelphia was working on a top secret project. Month after month the workers experimented with different ingredients and formulas. And month after month all they had to show for their hard work was a big sticky mess. Would there be no bubble gum? Sometimes the best inventions come from the most unexpected places...
Confession here: I am really awful at blowing bubbles in gum. I used to be so jealous of kids who could blow bubbles as big as their heads, or who could blow a bubble, close it off, and blow another into a chain! Bubble gum is a tumultuous topic for me (not really), so learning about its history was pretty fascinating!
I love stories of accidental inventions. I love stories of people inventing something far outside their field of expertise. I love stories that explain how something we take for granted (like the pink color of bubble gum) was really just a case of right time-right place. Life and progress is a strange meandering journey, and discovering a little bit of how things are made is almost always interesting.
Also, the simple sentences used make for great out-of-context hilarity! "He knew lots about math but not much about gum." That is the saddest random fact to assign to someone. I think I might use it on acquaintances from now on.
Next time your kid asks for a piece of gum, have him or her read this first!
Four out of five Dubble Bubble gums.
Release Date: May 2010
Reading Level: Grade K+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: MONARCH