Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bazooka Joe: Still Misbehaving

by Pa Rock
Nostalgia Buff

There are a couple of candy dishes that sit on a desk in the front office where I work, making it far too easy to grab a sweet every time any of us come up front to collect a client or perform any act of clerical business such as pulling our reports off of the printer or filing.  Everyone takes turns in filling these dishes, and it often evolves into sort of a contest to see who can come up with the most delicious, or original treats.  Last fall I scored a hit when I found little packages of Necco Wafers at the commissary - and they were all the rage for a day or so.

Today somebody put something in one of the bowls called Warheads, which are hard candies that are sour (unbelievably sour!) on the outside and sweet on the inside.  I popped one in my mouth without bothering to even read the name on the wrapper.  I won't be making that mistake again - but the young people in the office got a good laugh out of my reaction!

The other bowl was filled with Bazooka Bubble Gum,  with each and every individually wrapped piece of gum containing a Bazooka Joe cartoon and a written fortune.  Bazooka Joe was a staple of my youth.   The cartoons were funny, and you could collect a bunch of them and send them in for prizes.  A few dollars was also required for each prize, of course.

Bazooka Joe and his pal Mort were always getting into some sort of mischief.  Joe wore an eye-patch, and Mort kept the top of his sweater pulled up over his mouth.  There were also a few other characters who were part of their gang.  They appeared to be young adolescents, older than the Little Rascals and younger than Archie Andrews and his gang at Riverdale High School.  And like the kids at Riverdale, their misadventures changed with the times.  The one that I opened today had Joe wearing bandages on his wrists which he said he got from his music.  He was asked if that happened playing the guitar, and the scene shifted to show Joe in front of his computer where he clarified that he hurt his wrists from "downloading" music!

The last time I had a serious encounter with Bazooka Joe was in 1999 when I was on a social work tour of Russia.  We were told to bring plenty of gifts for the Russian people, and one of the things that I took along was a large quantity of Bazooka Bubble Gum.    I don't remember where I found it, but the gum was a huge hit - tasty and a unique bit of American culture.  I haven't run across any since - until today.   If I can find where it came from, I'll stock up.

It's always good to reconnect with old friends.

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