Bubble Gum Is One of Philadelphia’s Greatest Exports: It Was Invented By Local Candy Accountant

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Girl Blowing Bubbles
Image via iStock.
As annoying as it can be to step onto, bubble gum is one of Philadelphia’s greatest exports, as it was invented by a local candy accountant.

One of Philadelphia’s biggest exports comes in a small but tasty package: bubble gum, writes Avi Wolfman-Arent for Billy Penn at WHYY.

It was invented by a 23-year-old accountant who worked for the Fleer Corporation.

The company was started by Frank Fleer, a German immigrant who arrived in Philadelphia in the 1880s. He established a candy company with headquarters in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood. The Fleer Corporation quickly became a national success.

One of its first hits was “Chiclets,” the original candy-coated gum. By 1920, the company’s founder was a millionaire, but he still had not managed to figure out how to make bubble gum.

He assumed consumers would enjoy a gum they could make bubbles with. He patented an early version of it in 1906 called “Blibber-Blubber.” However, it did not stick as the substance was too sticky and brittle.

He died in 1921, leaving the bubble gum puzzle unresolved.

Seven years later, accountant Walter Diemer was experimenting in his own time at the Fleer factory. After many failures, he managed to create a mixture that allowed him to blow a bubble, giving birth to Double Bubble and bubble gum in general.

Read more about the invention of bubble gum in Billy Penn at WHYY.

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