Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Bubblegum is, by far, one of the most fascinating success stories the business world has ever seen, and the result of what exists today goes way back through the monumental efforts of some great bubble gum heroes.

I look back to the very beginning when the idea of commercially made chewing gum was very young, and they were using ingredients like charcoal and chalk. From out of nowhere a young man, Frank Fleer comes along and starts to work at a business, that, as far as I know, is totally unrelated to chewing gum and very early in his career invents the Chiclet, which itself is a great American success story, and from there the groundwork was laid, and, apparently, the bubble gum dreams were made.

However it came about, Frank Fleer, with his chewing gum invention background, brought about the earliest form of bubblegum, Blibber-Blubber, which, judging by the amount of time from the creation of the Chiclet to the time of Blibber-Blubber, must have been an enormously difficult accomplishment in spite of the fact that it was such a great gum innovator like Fleer who was making the effort.

Enter Gilbert Mustin, who took over Fleer’s company when he died. There are likely many other reasons Mustin achieved his giant bubble gum status, but what seems like key reasons are that he 1) kept both the spirit of inventiveness and the interest in the possibility of bubble gum alive after Fleer was gone, and 2) he hired Walter Deimer.

Walter Deimer was the biggest of all. While his invention of bubble gum was the biggest thing, I think his attitude about it was every bit as big. Who cared about the color? Who cared about the taste? It was the size of those bubbles that mattered. How big of a bubble can you blow? Walter Deimer knew that, stuck to it, and drove the point home. And it’s been over 80 years of bubble gum success ever since.

Then along came a man who, as far as I know, in the seventies began manufacturing and selling gumball machines. Well, one event led to another until one day Bruce Weiner’s company, Concord Confections, bought Dubble Bubble, and then, in true giants of bubble gum fashion, as far as I know, improved the formula so that even bigger bubbles could be blown and then began putting on the biggest bubble gum blowing contests the world had ever seen, and then sold the company at an immense profit. I could just see the smile on Walter Deimer’s face if he could have seen what Bruce Weiner had done. Improve the big bubble quality, continually drive the big bubble point home, and enjoy incredible success because of it. Up, down, and done.

And then there were the people who actually blew the bubbles. Millions if not billions of us who grew up loving bubble gum. Of all of us, none stood taller than Susan Montgomery Williams and her incredible bubble blowing journey that began in the seventies and went all the way to her death in 2008, and survives past that with her continued owning of the Guinness World Record which she originally won in 1979, The BUBBLEGUM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, and a mountain of publicity that continues to survive. As Chewsy Suzy would say today if she were still alive, “32 years and still looking for some GUMpetition!”

That’s what bubble gum all comes down to. The giants of bubble gum knew that it was the answering of the question of just how big a bubble a person could blow was what drove the success of bubble gum. The giants and their accomplishments got us to where bubble gum is today, and, like the title of this blog, we stand on their shoulders to create the future of bubble gum, exactly like they did past.

Make it all about the giant bubble, then just keep on jamming that point home.

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