Monday, October 17, 2011

Whole Lotta Chewin' Goin' On

Watching the Cardinals beat the Brewers last night, I was struck by three things. First, how far the Birds have come since August, when they had been counted out. (I was among the counters). Second, how exciting it was to have a World Series again in St. Louis. Forget the fact that Standing Room tickets on StubHub are going for $400, so if you want an actual seat, you'll need to check on your home equity line of credit. And third - and the reason for this post - is how many guys were chewing bubble gum. Did you see them? Grown men, getting millions of dollars a year, dressed in spiffy uniforms, blowing the big pink orbs, popping them on camera. I can't say bubble gum was in the majority. An awful lot of guys were spitting sunflower seeds on cue. (An aside: Who's the guy that comes in after the game and sweeps up all those shells. And does he sell them on eBay?)

Here's my big wonderment: Why are there no bubble gum commercials in the games? Talk about product placement, you couldn't ask for better. It's almost as prevalent as bottles of Bud in a bar scene. So I spent a little Google time on bubble gum. I thought, there should be an official bubble gum of Major League Baseball. Well, surprise. There is. No, not Dubble Bubble or Topps. It's Big League Chew. Made by Wrigley. Invented, in 1980 by two teammates on the Portland Mavericks. Rob Nelson and Jim Bouton. According to Bouton, he saw Rob chewing bubble gum, and Rob said to Jim, "Too bad they don't sell this kinda stuff." And Jim, a go-for-it kinda guy, said "Great idea, Rob. I'll put up the money if you make it." The rest is chewing gum history. They made their bubble gum, took it to Wrigley, and now, 30 years later, one-half BILLION bags have been sold. 

I just wonder how many more bags they'd sell if they advertise. Unusual business move here: Wrigley sold the distribution rights to Ford Gum and Machine Company, of Akron, NY, in 2010. And now for the change-of-pace. It's made in Mexico.

Here's what it looks like, just in case you want to try a "chaw." Big League even has a theme line. "You're in the big leagues when you're into Big League Chew."

In case you're wondering if only baseball players chew Big League, take a look at this. I'm going to run over to Walgreen's and big me a bag.