I was surprised to just sort of happen across some big Big League Chew news last week. Surprised, because I regularly lunch with Big League Chew's inventor. Still, there it was, right on a respectable magazine's Website ...
Earlier this month, it was announced that, come June, Big League Chew bubble gum — invented in 1968 by former all-star pitcher Jim Bouton and Rob Nelson, when both were teammates with the Class A Portland Mavericks — will no longer feature uncouth cartoon characters on its pouches. They will be replaced with photos of actual major leaguers. This blows.
Not the change itself. It isn't the first time the iconic illustrations of Georgia artist Bill Mayer were swapped out for images of pro players. A brief promotion in the late 1990s had Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Billy Williams, and Brooks Robinson gracing the gum. What's upsetting is the players chosen this time: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.
Upsetting? Really? The writer apparently is upset because Kemp and Hamels are both good-looking, as opposed to Mayer's "iconic illustrations" ... which were, it's true, not good-looking fellows at all:
Here's the thing, though: that guy, along with Mayer's other creations, went away in the late 1990s. That's right; our correspondent is lamenting something -- This blows. -- that actually disappeared around 15 years ago. For some years now, the basic Big League Chew pouch has looked like this:
Frankly, I've never been a big fan of that guy; he looks like he's jacked up on ... well, on something. There are other, similar characters for the different gum flavors. Maybe you prefer the old guy with a sausage for a nose, if for nostalgia alone. But this is an odd time to complain about Ol' Sausagenose going away. Also, there have been all sorts of different pouches over the years. Just this weekend, I was in a rural grocery store and saw a Big League Chew pouch featuring a batting bunny (an Easter special, I'm assuming).
Seems like a great deal of ado about not a whole lot. But at least people are talking about Big League Chew...