MadSci Network: Other
Query:

Re: Who invented Bubble Gum & How did he or she get the idea?

Date: Sat Jan 24 14:54:39 1998
Posted By: David Winsemius, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Other
ID: 884366539.Ot
Message:

I used AltaVista to see what is "on the Web". I used "bubble gum" as a search term, but I had to put in a bunch of "-" signs in front of terms to block out stories about a particular brand of Japanese animation and a rock group. Then I found this informative page (Link defunct http://clients.intervisage.com/eweek/media/PressReleases/gum.htm) that has the following information:

FROM BUBBLE GUM TO SYNTHETIC RUBBER: SALUTING AN ENGINEER WHO MADE THE BEST OF "STICKY SITUATIONS"

NEW YORK, JANUARY 25 While raincoats, automobile tires, and bubble gum would seem to have little in common, they are actually linked in two ways: they can trace their roots to the rubber industry, and they owe a debt to chemical engineer and inventor, Waldo L. Semon. During a 37-year career with The B.F. Goodrich Company in Akron, Ohio, Semon patented more than 116 inventions, including polyvinyl chloride, the key ingredient in everything from phonograph records, to bumper stickers, to the aforementioned raincoats; adhesives used to attach fabric to automobile seats, and carpets to floors; and even bubble gum.

(Editors note: Irrelevant stuff (just joking) about Mr. Semon developing polyvinyl chloride, making hundreds of discoveries, and getting all sorts of awards and honors has been deleted)

The Stuff That Made Bazooka Famous Semon's other famous invention grew out of a company directive to find as many uses for rubber as possible. "Bubble gum came about as I was asked to create whatever I could from rubber," he noted recently, "and bubble gum was one of many." Semon came up with the substance, a form of rubber, thinking it could replace conventional chewing gum. "It looked just like ordinary gum," he told The New York Times in 1995, "except that it would blow these great big bubbles. Unfortunately, BFGoodrich thought that was a defect and that nobody would buy it."

BFGoodrich passed on developing and commercializing the product, which Semon patented in October of 1931. After the time on the patent ran out, Bazooka trademarked the product. Semon ended up having no financial stake in the commercialization of his invention.

This fellow Semon sounds like a giant in the area of polymer chemistry. Hope this helps. Thanks for the great question!

David Winsemius


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