How Bazooka gum uses nostalgia to drive sweet success

May 2, 2023

In 1947, Topps created a bright pink bubble gum square with an initially tough chew, a sweet smell, and powerful sugary taste of fruit and cotton candy. A few years later, the company added to its wrapper the now iconic comic featuring Bazooka Joe and his gang, reports Food Dive.

Now, 76 years later, consumers are still chewing those hard-then-soft sweet squares and rectangles of Bazookagum. And while the confectionery space and consumer trends have changed considerably in the last three generations, Bazooka has not.

Rebecca Silberfarb, vice president of marketing in the Americas for Bazooka Candy Brands, said Bazooka has been able to maintain its iconic nature through the decades.

“What people knew about it 75 years ago—or in their childhood, however many years ago that was—is still true to the core of the brand,” she said. “We are a brand that brings, what we call in our company, edible entertainment.”

The children of today—as well as the children of yesterday—open the red, white and blue package of gum, read the comic, and chew the gum until it’s soft enough to try to blow a bubble, she said. The gum’s original formula is the same, the packaging is similar to that of decades ago, and eyepatched Bazooka Joe and his gang are still making people groan with comics full of dad jokes and sometimes head-scratching fortunes — like “You may want to wash your old sneakers.”

From a corporate standpoint, the company has been through a variety of changes. Bazooka was created by Topps, which also morphed into a well-known trading card company. Topps’ candy division became known as Bazooka Candy Brands in 2009. Through the years, it added brands including Ring Pop—its biggest seller — and Push Pop. Bazooka is actually one of the company’s smaller brands, Silberfarb said.

But for the most part, the company found their consumers wanted the classic Bazooka gum they’d known for years. Some of the less popular changes were walked back, while a few new innovations—like flavors and sugar-free gum—stayed around.

“It’s kind of keeping true to our consumer and what the product is, but really bringing it along for the ride as times change,” she said.

Bazooka’s sales are still growing, Silberfarb said. In the last year, Bazooka’s sales were up 10%, compared to the year before, she said. Today, most people who buy Bazooka are adults who enjoyed it years ago. “There’s a lot of adult nostalgia,” she said.

Research contact: @FoodDive