The Button Box


Chewing gum has changed a lot since I was a child and spending my days with my grandparents while mom was sleeping. (My mom worked the night shift as a telephone operator.) Grandmother would not buy chewing gum for me when we went to town. She would buy those little candy necklaces and that was all that she would buy for me.
I am surprised she bought them because I wore the necklace all the time I was eating the little candy beads so I always had a sticky neck for her to clean up. The taste of those little candy beads was a lot like sweet tarts, not real sweet but I was happy with any kind of candy at that age.
So when I wanted something to chew she would slice off a little piece of her canning wax and when I had it softened up a little in my mouth she would give me just a little bit of the dry Kool Aid powder to add to it. I didn’t know any different and thought that was good.
The canning wax was hard to chew and my jaws got tired pretty fast and I would spit out her idea of chewing gum and go back to sucking on the bead necklace. I can still remember the sweet tart flavor of those necklaces.
When I was really young there was little wax bottles that had a sweet liquid in them that was fruit flavored but Grandmother would rarely buy them for me. If Grandfather gave me a few pennies when I walked to town with him I would buy one. Now that I think about it they probably tasted the same as her canning wax and Kool-Aid.
I really didn’t get gum until I was in the 8th grade. But we couldn’t chew gum in school or we’d get in trouble. One of our teachers made us swallow it if he caught us chewing gum in his class. Not an experience I wanted to repeat. So once was enough to teach me not to chew gum at school.
I don’t think I had gum again until I started to work at the drug store when I was in high school. I started to work as a soda jerk when I was a sophomore in 1964 after mom and her best friend bought the drug store. The job as soda jerk was one of the most fun jobs I ever had.
The drug store was the meeting place in that little town and all the adults came there for coffee and to talk and to buy gifts. The kids liked to come for a coke or milkshake and to get candy or ice cream bars. So as the soda jerk I got to talk to lot of people every day.
Do you remember the clove and black jack gum they had back then? It just took one time of trying to chew either one of them for me to decide I didn’t like them. If I remember right the black jack was a licorice flavor, and I hated black licorice.
We sold a lot of bubble gum in the drug store and had two kinds. There was double bubble and it came in a little log shape wrapped up individually. That was my choice for bubble gum. But it was actually too big for my mouth and it got really firm and hard to chew pretty quick.
The other bubble gum was Bazooka. It was a little flat square that was scored down the middle so you had two pieces. The Bazooka had a different taste than the Double Bubble and I was not really fond of it even though I could divide it and have two pieces instead of one. Plus it stayed soft longer so you could blow bubbles.
In the 50’s Beech Nut gum had little chickles that were Chlorophyll (they were green) I didn’t like that flavor. Beechnut also had mellow fruit, cherry stripe, and fruit stripe, which I did like now and then. Clarks had teaberry clorets with resin, didn’t like that one either. Supposed to be good for the breath I guess.
Beechnut had the little Beeches and the flavors for them were mellow fruit and cherry stripe and fruit stripe. Adams had a sour banana, black jack, and clove gum. The black jack was a licorice flavor that I didn’t like but we sold a lot of it in the drug store. I was not a fan of the clove either.
We had a large display case on the counter near the cash register that had all the different brands and flavors of gum. But by far the most popular with the adults were the Wrigley’s spearmint in the white package and the one in the green package was peppermint and was a stronger flavor.
I am sure that this walk down chewing gum lane will bring back some memories if you were a child of the 50’s and 60’s. Chewing gum has sure changed through the years. To contact Sandy: [email protected]


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