Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

What It Is

Gum has been around for centuries, but the true invention of “bubble” gum was in Philadelphia in the 1920s. This newly released book is a “biography” of the gooey confection’s early years. Believe it or not, an accountant at the Fleer Corporation (of trading card fame) created the first bubble gum formula. Up until then, gum was something that you chewed and was often used to soothe stomach aches. Young Walter Diemer’s accounting office happened to be located next to an experimental laboratory, where lab techs were trying, unsuccessfully, to create a new kind of gum that could be blown into bubbles. Being a very curious young man, he snuck into the lab after hours, tinkered with some ingredients, and after months of trial and error, eventually created what we now know as Dubble Bubble bubble gum. Who knew?!

Why It’s Fun

Meghan McCarthy’s book is a fun lesson in pop culture history. I had pretty high expectations based on the title that really “popped” out at me and I’m happy to say her book did not disappoint. As an “unexpected” invention, bubble gum’s creation already makes an entertaining story, and McCarthy brings her light-hearted writing a step further with hand-painted illustrations that put readers right back into the 1920s.

We learn a bit about the history of plain chewing gum, including its roots in ancient Greek civilization. Following the story, the last pages of the book give us more information about Walter and fun facts about bubble gum. Did you know that about 40 million pieces of gum are sold daily, or that urban myth about gum taking seven years to digest if swallowed really is just a myth?

Who’s Going To Love It

Non-fiction books should be part of everyone’s reading mix and this is a terrific pick for kids. The publisher’s recommended age is 4- to 8-year-olds and it’s fun topic is surely going to be a draw to all in this range. You may even find siblings that are a year or two older listening in to learn about this popular childhood staple. With so much “betcha didn’t know” info in this book, it’s a “sweet” addition to any home library and gives us plenty to “chew” on. Just don’t forget to brush!

Reading Time

About four minutes.

Read-It-Again Points

10 out of 10

Book Information

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum
By: Written and Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy
Published by: Simon & Schuster (2010)
Approximate retail price: $15.99 (hardcover)

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