This came up in a conversation with an old friend yesterday — Big League Chew.
Shelby is a Southerner who claims she can remember candy cigarettes — I was surprised when she said that, because that seems to me like something from our parents’ generation. I only had candy cigarettes once, and that was after I my mom and dad bought them for me from somewhere on a lark. (I guess more responsible marketing had led to their absence in New York by the 1980’s.)
I sure as hell remember that other candy that mimicked a tobacco product, though — Big League Chew.
I wasn’t the smartest little boy on the planet, exactly … it might have been lost on me that BLC was meant to parallel the chewing tobacco favored by Major League Baseball players. I just thought it was incredibly cool because you could shove wads of it in your mouth, regardless of an appropriate portion size.
It also seemed vaguely … athletic to me. It was associated with professional baseball somehow. I wanted to bring it with me to my municipal T-ball games. (I don’t remember the name of my team that summer, but we had bright green uniforms that would have made Hal Jordan proud.) I never had enough self-control, though, to save it for a game. That stuff went quick in my jaws on long summer days.
I can still remember the taste and the smell of it. My favorite was grape. We only had four flavors, back in my day. (And we were thankful for what we had.) The Internet informs me that eventually there was a candy-soda flavor, as well? And … a Big League “Plug” that was a candy bar? Weird.
The packaging was also different back in the 80’s. We got the bizarrely ugly, caricaturized baseball players that you see on the packaging below. (Normal mascots came later.) In retrospect, that seems like a weird marketing choice. Did any kid ever want to look like the grape guy with the handlebar mustache?
I have a five-year-old buddy who was looking over my shoulder when I was preparing this blog post yesterday … she took one look at that picture of the shredded gum, and said, “Yuck!! It looks like spaghetti!!”