Ahhh, seeing that red, white, and blue wrapper always brings back some great memories of being a kid, chewing gum, saving the wrappers to get cool stuff, and laughing at the comics that was wrapped around your gum. And all this for 10 cents!
Bazooka Joe comics started in 1952 when Woody Gelman, the head of Product Development at Topps, approached cartoonist Wesley Morse to create Bazooka Joe and his Gang. The character was named after a contest was held asking for suggestions. Morse was the original artist on Bazooka Joe, and was also the artist for many of the pornographic drawings collected into so-called "Tijuana bibles" or "eight-pagers", popular in the pre-war period.
Morse would turn the stories he would hear his young son tell about his adventures with his friends on the playground into many of the comic strips . Bazooka Joe had a "gang " of friends with him that were all based on people that Wesley Morse had met. Let's meet them now.
Pesty (formerly Orville), who may be Joe's younger brother, with a 1950s cowboy sombrero
Mort, a gangly boy who always wears his red turtleneck sweater pulled up over his mouth
Hungry Herman, Joe's tubby pal
Jane, Joe's girlfriend
Toughie, a streetwise type who wears a sailor hat
Metaldude, a blond bulleted fan of heavy metal music
Walkie Talkie, a neighborhood mutt
The comics generally consist of soft, child-friendly jokes, as well as small advertisements for fun, odd merchandise one could obtain in exchange for comics and a few cents or dollars. From the very beginning in 1954, the bottom of the comics included "fortunes" similar to those one would find in a fortune cookie but with a comedic bent.
When the times changed so did Bazooka Joe and his gang. When the late 1980s came in, Bazooka Joe started to Rap! Yes, you read that right, the comics had "Bazooka Joe Raps" with him rapping about something fun!
But like anything else that was fun from our childhood, things at Topps had to change. With the sales of Bazooka Joe gum slowing down for more EXTREME candy, the Topps company, Bazooka Candy Brands announced in November 2012 that they will no longer include the comic strip in their packaging. The new wrapper will include brain teasers, instructions, and codes that can be used to unlock videos and video games.
But let's take a look back at some of the great strips that came with this great gum.