DODD COLUMN: Bubble gum came with laughs | Opinion – Evening News and Tribune

Posted: June 21, 2020 at 8:52 am


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Do you live each day as if its your first or last? Either way you should probably have a diaper on!

Ellen DeGeneres

The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Be as you wish to seem.

Socrates

Whatever deceives men seems to produce a magical enchantment.

Plato

Nobody likes me. Pesty Thats not true, everybody hasnt met you yet! Mort

Ones philosophy of life is defined from many sources. In college philosophy courses, I studied the writings and thoughts of such great thinkers as Nietzsche, Socrates and Plato. I wasnt aware of their wisdom and philosophy until my college-aged years. When I was in my prepubescent years, I formed much of my early deep thought from the cartoons in my bubble gum.

Bazooka Joe gum always came replete with a cartoon comic wrapped around every piece. In those cartoons I found a magic world of characters that commented on a life that I was just discovering. For a couple of pennies, I anxiously awaited the wisecracking and for a boy of tender age hilarious situations and responses.

Among my early influences was Pesty, who according to Wikipedia might have been Bazooka Joes brother, although it was never quite defined as a fact. His usual sidekick was Mort, described as a gangly boy who always wore a turtleneck sweater pulled up over his mouth. I always likened Mort to the Jughead character in the Archie comics.

Hungry Herman was Joes rotund friend. Jane was Joes girlfriend. Toughie was a tough guy street character who always wore a sailor suit. There was also a neighborhood mutt named Walkie Talkie.

Adding in Joe they were collectively referred to as Bazooka Joe and his Gang.

The gang was conceived sometime between 1952 and 1954 by a couple of guys who worked in product development at Topps. Cartoonist Wesely Morse was hired to create the gang. A contest was held to name the character.

This back story eventually led to one of the staples of my early childhood. I spent many pennies of my hard-earned money collecting pop bottles and turning them into money to purchase my own little bags of treasure from Lawlers General Store located on Allison Lane.

Unwrapping the newly purchased gum to which the gum was standard fare, I couldnt wait to read the next installment of Bazooka Joe comics. For me, it was kind of a cartoon soap opera into their lives. In my young mind, the travails and perils of the gang were very real and I kind of considered them as my imaginary friends.

In analyzing my sense of humor, I would probably list them among my many influences of humor that was at a level that even a young child could comprehend and appreciate. I am sure I often repeated some of the set-ups and punch lines as if they were my very own.

Bazooka Joe comics with my gum would have been as big a treasure as my next gift hidden inside a box of Cracker jacks. Marketing gimmickry was a staple of many of the products that made kids request products, including cereal boxes. It certainly worked on me.

Unbeknownst to me until my research for the column, Topps had bombed with its original cartoon characters in the gum with a cartoon called, Bazooka, the Atom Bubble Boy. Topps didnt hit the pay dirt with Bazooka Joe and His Gang until around 1954.

Collectors of such childhood memorabilia as cartoon bubble gum comics would be hard-pressed to collect all the Bazooka Joe cartoons, as the number I could verify is that there are at least 1,535 of them. Over the years characters were added and redesigned and the cartoons, themselves, were smaller in size. Obviously, the subject matter was changed to keep up with the times.

As I reviewed some of the old comics, I had a trip down memory lane and still smiled at the philosophy, er, albeit humor from my youngest days. A couple examples of the sophisticated humor from those days of innocence gone by:

(Groan) We lost another game. Joe to Herman. Yeah, that makes 14 in a row. Herman. Mort: You cant win them all!

Mort: I think I am going to flunk my history test today on account of sickness. Joe: Youre sick? Mort: No, but the fellow I copy from is home with a cold!

Teacher: Pesty can you name all of the Presidents? Pesty: Err-no. Teacher: Why when I was your age, I could name them all. Pesty: But when you were my age there were only 3 or 4 Presidents!

Simple things for simple minds! Hey, remember when I was laughing hysterically at them, I was like 8 years old!

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DODD COLUMN: Bubble gum came with laughs | Opinion - Evening News and Tribune

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

Posted in Nietzsche