It took a young accountant to put the bubble in bubble gum.
The story of Dubble Bubble.
The threat of joblessness inspired this entrepreneur.
In 1927, Walter Diemer was told at his company Christmas Party that business was so bad, he probably wouldn’t have a job next Christmas. At the time, Diemer was a 23-year old accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia.
But in his spare time, he experimented with chewing gum recipes.
One day he accidentally came up with a batch of extra chewy, extra heavy, extra stretchy gum – gum a kid could blow bubbles with. Diemer immediately saw the potential.
His fellow employees didn’t. They worried that the stuff would break the company’s mixing machines.
But Diemer persisted. He had a batch of the gum cut into pieces, wrapped them with a salt water taffy wrapper, then took the gum to a Philadelphia candy store.
It sold out in a single afternoon.
Diemer’s boss, Fleer President Gilbert Mustin, loved the gum. He named it Dubble Bubble and sent his young accountant out to train sales people how to blow bubbles.
It wasn’t the company’s first attempt to create bubble gum, company founder Frank Fleer introduced one called “Blibber-Blubber” in 1906. But the gum was hard to chew, fell apart quickly and was hard to create bubbles with. Worst of all, it was nearly impossible to remove from the human face when a bubble burst.
So Walter Diemer’s new formula – the world’s first successful bubble gum – was welcomed warmly into the Fleer family. It became a huge hit – and Walter Diemer became a lifetime Fleer executive. In its first year on the market, Fleer sold $1.5 million of Dubble Bubble priced at one-cent each. During WWII, Dubble Bubble was even included in U.S. military rations – until shortages of latex and sugar halted production of gum for the duration. After Fleer returned to production in 1951, it was making five million pieces of Dubble Bubble daily.
Not only was Diemer’s bubble gum an accident, its color was too. Pink was the only food coloring handy at the company. Which is why Dubble Bubble — and almost all bubble gum — is pink today.
According to news accounts shortly before his death, Walter Diemer never received any royalties for his invention. Apparently his appointment as a senior vice-president and a member of Fleer’s board of directors was reward enough. Although he retired from Fleer in 1970, he stayed on the board another ten years.
His wife told interviewers that he’d often invite neighborhood kids into their house, tell them the story of his invention, then hold bubble blowing contests. In his final years he lived in a Lancaster Pennsylvania retirement community, where he was known as the man who rode a big tricycle and gave bubble gum to children. He died in 1998, at age 93.
Walter Diemer – the accountant who put the bubble in bubble gum — exemplifies one of our Axioms For Entrepreneurs: Solve a problem within your profession. He created a product that saved his company and secured his future. Dubble Bubble – the first successful bubble gum!
Now why didn’t I think of that?