Hay's Daze

Hay’s Daze: Ten cent bubble challenge

FLEER. Isn’t that a great word? I like words that are funny just because of the sound of them. At least I think they are funny. Words like ‘blurb’ or ‘humongous’ or ‘Smoot’ (sorry Reginald). But I hadn’t seen the word Fleer or even thought about it for a very old dog’s age, until the other day when it sat there on our table at the restaurant. In fact, the last time I saw it was at a Bare Naked Ladies concert where head Lady, Ed Robertson, was wearing a cool T-shirt with one pink word on it: FLEER.

I’m wondering if you remember or recognize “Fleer” as a part of your precious past the way I do. So you probably weren’t around in 1885 and I wasn’t either but that’s when a dude named Frank H. Fleer invented a world-changing product. In yet another example of wonderful wordage, Frank had created a chewing gum that was “capable of being blown into bubbles” and he called it “Blibber-Blubber.”

Fleer’s Blibber-Blubber, in spite of the epic name, was pretty good when blowing bubbles but really sucked when chewed. But by 1928 the company finally got the bubble business right. They called it “Double Bubble.”

Double Bubble always seemed to be popping up in my past. I remember the little pink rectangles were one cent each in those days and were always a part of any five or ten-cent candy crusade calibrated to spend most of my allowance. And if you remember the Double Bubbles I know you’ll remember the Fleer Funnies – the little comic strip wrapped around the gum that was hardly ever funny but we always read them out loud to our friends anyway. But, do you remember the name of the little guy who starred in every comic?

I asked my Better Half that very question when we were sitting at the restaurant the other day. We had taken a nice drive to a nearby town for supper and after a nice meal, the nice waitress brought out bill, smiled and dropped two Fleer Double Bubbles on the table for us. I was so happy I almost gave her a tip when I paid the bill. (Kidding.) (I made the B.H. pay a nice tip.)

Later that same evening at home, the inevitable happened. With appropriate pomp and circumstance, the Better Half and I faced off, unwrapped our D.B.s, and each, in turn, read our Fleer Funnies out loud. They were just as bad as I remembered but we snickered and groaned anyway. And then, well, you can see where this is going.

Who can blow the biggest bubble?

The chunk of gum was smaller and harder than I remembered and a lot more difficult to chew. Put it this way: I almost had a couple of unscheduled dental extractions during our highly competitive contest. Also, it seemed an awful lot harder for either of us to get a nice bubble going. For me, after what seemed like 1000 chews and 100 small prematurely popping bubbles I was so exhausted I nearly conceded and went in search of a nap.

The Better Half won, of course. I would never say that higher quantities of hot air determine the best bubble gum bubbles, at least not out loud, but eventually, the BH was generating impressive softball-size bubbles. I was egging her on, with visions of me quickly poking and popping one of her humongous ones. Bubble gum is so hard to get out your hair, isn’t it?

Oh, by the way, the Fleer Funnies guy’s name is Pud. And if you can find some, Double Bubbles are ten cents each now. And worth every penny.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.