What type of goodies will you find in your trick-or-treat bag? Among your candy favorites, you’ll likely find an assortment of gum.
Unlike regular chewing gum, bubble gum is formulated to be sweeter and softer so that it can be blown into bubbles, and sucked back in to be chewed again.
The Topps Chewing Gum Company, founded in 1938 by the four Shorin brothers, introduced Bazooka bubble gum in 1947. Like other bubble gum brands at the time, the single gum piece was wrapped to include a short comic strip; Topps named theirs “Bubbles.”
To give Bazooka an increased identity, a new cartoon character was developed. Bazooka the Atom Bubble Boy, introduced in 1949, had various adventures by blowing a large bubble and seeing where it would take him.
The character didn’t prove popular, so in 1953 Wesley Morse was tasked with creating a new character to represent the brand. Morse used his son as the inspiration for Bazooka Joe, and added characters Jane, Mort, Herman and Pesty to create his “gang.”
When Bazooka Joe and his gang made their debut in 1954, Joe had been given his distinctive eyepatch, due to the popularity of the eyepatch-wearing Hathaway Shirt man introduced a few years earlier in 1951.
With its simple three-panel joke and fortune, the comic was an instant hit. In 1962, the characters were redrawn and the cartoon paper was reduced by half its size. Kids often saved the comics to paste on paper and create their own comic books, or mail them in for special offers from Topps.
The characters were revised again in 1989, and the title was updated to Bazooka Joe & Company. The format switched from comics in 1996 and Joe continued to be updated to stay current with changing trends.
Topps re-released a series of classic cartoons for Bazooka Joe’s 50th anniversary in 2003, but then totally discontinued the character in 2013.
In 2019, Bazooka Joe made a comeback, in packaging labeled as Bazooka Throwback, featuring favorite comics from the 1970’s.