Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere

We Baby Boomer kids were fascinated with bubbles. I don’t know, maybe all kids share that love, but I personally have lots of fond memories of childhood that involve bubbles of all sorts.

For instance, take Mr. Bubble. In the 60’s, no bath was complete without a heaping mass of white bubbles caused by a capful of Mr. Bubble tossed into the running water. What made it so essential to bath time? That endless string of commercials, that’s what!

There’s probably not a single American kid from the 60’s that didn’t grow a Mr. Bubble beard.

Another bubble phenomenon we all loved was buying a bottle of bubbles for a nickel. It was a little container containing a plastic hoogis that had rings on each end, designed to be dipped into the soapy stuff and either (a) waved through the air, making a string of little bubbles, or (b) slowly blown into by a child with just the right amount of exhaled air, thereby creating a massive vesicle (sorry, but hey, there just aren’t many good synonyms for bubble!) of eight or more inches in diameter.

You could also pour the soap solution into a pan and place a massive plastic ring about a foot wide into it and make some truly gargantuan orbs of next-to-nothingness (I came up with that one myself). The manufacturer of the aforementioned giant bubble maker (Wham-O, I believe) also had another big ring with dozens of smaller holes, so you could create a miniature blizzard of smaller sized bubbles.

The bubble pipe was a prime example of a really cool looking product that was disappointing in actual performance. A perfectly designed bubble pipe would have sent a flurry of globelets (I’m seriously starting to run out of synonyms here) skyward with a healthy blast of breath. Instead, it simply produced a flaccid froth, which dripped down the edges of the triune plastic bowls and unceremoniously hit the ground.

Boomers who purchased Pontiac Fieros in the 80’s experienced a similar letdown.

Then, there was Super Elastic Bubble Plastic. Just try getting THIS product approved for sale to kids today. It consisted of a tube full of polyvinyl acetate dissolved in acetone, with plastic fortifiers added. The acetone evaporated upon bubble inflation leaving behind a solid plastic film. You rolled up a small circle of said concoction, then inserted a straw and slowly blew into it. All was well, as long as you were in a well-ventilated are, and you did a Bill Clinton. But if you DID mess up and inhale, you got yourself a lungful of fumes that weren’t good for you.

However, the semi-rigid bubbles would last, and last.

Then, there was Bubble-Up pop. “A kiss of lemon, a kiss of lime.” The now-obscure soft drink was immortalized in Merle Haggard’s hit Rainbow Stew. “We’ll all be drinkin’ that free Bubble-Up, and eatin’ that rainbow stew!” Introduced in 1919, it was still around and distributed by Coca-Cola when we were kids. Then Sprite came along, and Bubble-Up slipped into obscurity, although someone out there is still making it.

Nowadays, I prefer my bubbles in a bedtime bourbon and Coke. But we kids of the 60’s sure had a lot of fun with them back in our day.

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