Monday, May 27, 2013

Feeling Glum? Well Gum's Not Dumb, It's A Balm Chewing Gum Memories In Singapore

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Chewing Gum Memory 1:

Remember how people chewed gum, spat it out and left disgusting gooey on the pavement? And the gum hardened and dried up? And it was such a nuisance?

Chewing Gum Memory 2:
Remember bubblegum music from around 1967 to 1972?  Or was it bubblegum rock, bubblegum pop, or simply bubblegum.  It was a genre of pops with an upbeat sound marketed to appeal to teenagers.

Popular groups like 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express and The Archies were representative of bubblegum music and the most successful bubblegum song was Sugar, Sugar.  Afterwards in 1969 bubble gum singer Tommy Roe came along, sang Dizzy and it became a hit.

Chewing Gum Memory 3:
I remember the nerve wrecking time that band boys and girls had in the 60s just before a performance at the National Theatre, Victoria Memorial Hall or other venues.  Imagine standing backstage and behind the gigantic curtains, waiting for your name to be announced?  It was tough especially for those who were appearing for the first time and worse for those appearing at talentime contests or perhaps during our current Final 1 at Media Corps?

What really kept them going were not the encouraging words from fellow musicians but the Chiclets or Wrigley's they had in their mouth.  It was security for the soul, reducing the chattering of teeth and a shivering heart. BTW what happens to the gum during singing? So what do you guys chew today since gum is banned here?

Chewing Gum Memory 4:
In 1973 when Peter Shaffer's play Equus became the talk of the theatre world and English Literature classes, antagonist and psychiatric patient Alan Strang's repeated mimicry of a radio advertisement, "Double your pleasure, Double your fun, With Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum..."  brought back sticking gum memories. ((Act 1/Scene 3. Penguin Plays/Shaffer/Page 214).

Chewing Gum Memory 5:
It was banned in Singapore around 1992 because nasty people stuck them on the door sensors of MRT trains, preventing the doors from functioning properly and causing disruption of train services.  It was not easy to catch the culprits but western countries made a hue and cry. 

Chewing Gum Memory 6: (Latest insert on 20th March, 2014)
Daniel Wang, Singaporean, was the man responsible for some of the cleaner habits we enjoy and practise today.   When the authorities wanted to ban chewing gum Wang had the unenviable task of banning it in Singapore. And it turned out to be a successful campaign although there were grumbles all round, especially amongst the young and cigarette smokers.  Daniel Wang had passed away in March 2014.  He was Director General of Public Health with the National Environment Agency these last few years. 

In March 2013, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, UK banned chewing gum since they found 22 pieces of discarded gum in just one square foot of pavement. Even many schools in the US banned it today. Lee Kuan Yew once responded to criticism that banning gum stifled creativity by saying, "If you can't think because you can't chew, try a banana."

To this day pharmacies in Singapore still, carry chewing gums for people who wish to quit smoking and sugar-free gum that contains calcium lactate for those who believe that it strengthens tooth enamel.

Dump The Gum. Here's A Much Better Alternative

Mentholated Sweets:
Hacks and other mentholated sweets were a boon too.  No one wanted to risk that up-close moment without a Hacks since it kept the breath fresh and sweet. Only ten cents for four, in the 60s that is.  Better suck one because nervousness can make the mouth run dry and your partner cry! So dump the gum and eat a sweet. Wot? Teeth will rot!

                                   Chewy Chewy - Ohio Express

Certain information from websites and Yahoo! but this posting is original.
It is neither written to sponsor nor to down trod any product.
Images: Google.


Marissa Lim said...

Hi Andy,

I am from Oak3 Films and currently involved in the upcoming project "PlayNation".

“PlayNation” is a 1-hour info-ed. about the changing recreational landscape in Singapore, focusing on national nostalgia, hence heritage and culture and the show is scheduled be broadcasted on nationwide television in the month of August 2013 on Okto.

We'll be covering a segment on the nightlife scene in Singapore, ie. bars, music, tea dances, etc. in the 60s and the current scene.

I came across your blog and saw you had some experience with the 60s nightlife scene, ie. Paya Lebar Airport Nightclub. Hence, I'd like to know if you would be willing to be interviewed about your experiences at Paya Lebar Airport Nightclub and other nightlife scenes in the 60s for the show.

Do let me know if you'd be willing to be interviewed or wish to know more about our project.


snow54304 said...

After listening to this song about 6 times at the pool hall across from my high school someone put money in the jukebox to play again.

Another kid said if you play that shit again I'll break your... neck. That's the day I was introduced to Led Zeppelin, and the last time I heard Sugar Sugar.

HapgatorMr said...

I love this song, but the band is a complete fabrication, a fake. The so-called "Ohio Express" was a band hired to tour with "cover" songs recorded by Joey Levine (as singer and writer) with session musicians from NYC. However, this version doesn't sound like Joey singing.

Diane dinkydi said...

Who the hell really cares, or does it really matter? this was the first song my mum bought for me on record and to this day still makes me smile. Its happy and upbeat. Music is Music it is all relative we all have differing opinions if you dont like it dont listen to it.


Hello Andy,

I just stumble on your blog. I must say I am impressed, it's really great that you have taken so much trouble to do this. I must applaud you for this. This truly must be a labour of
love "Fantastic". I wonder if you can get in touch with me asap, I would love to have a chat with you.

Please drop me a line at my email, thanks and best regards,


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Matthew for the visit. Ah, the great man himself. I tried to connect but could not get your email address. Please write to me again and leave one and I'll get back to you.

Nicholas Jennings said...

Andy, thank you for this post. Do you follow the blog Ipohworld's World? The Falcons were recently mentioned. Perhaps you would be willing to post comments or Ipoh music photos.

Here is the link to the Falcons comment:


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Nicholas for the email and connection to Ipohworld's World.


BTW, do you know why LKY put the ban at the first place?

Is it true that it was connected with the story of having dinner with the Thailand's king?

From the FB of TC Lai


Was there a Thai angle to this saga? Anyway, according to Wiki. .. It was Goh Chok Tong who ordered the ban. LKY thought about it but postponed the decision. For us doing Reservist then, chewing gum was useful in whiling away the boredom of waiting during in-camp. We could buy small quantities from JB with no problem. And spitting out in the field wasn't a problem.

From the FB of TCLai

Anonymous said...

Interesting write up! Didnt know abt bubblegum music era. Thou i like this song sugar sugar. ;)


Lee Kuan Yew really did a wonderful job in banning Chewing Gums in Singapore.The Americans were furious cos they export the Wrigley's Chewing Gums.I remembered my pants had Gums on it after a cinema show,when some nasty fellow stuck one on the seat.The roads were filled with the dirty Gums and the sweeper had trying time to rid of them.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you, Stephen, for your interesting comment. Yes, gum is nasty especially when some crazy chap sticks it on you purposefully.

CHEW ENG ONG said...

People (worldwide) laugh at our bans and restrictions. But we have the last laugh (in some of them). Of course, even LKY was not perfect, take the stop at two campaign for example.

MARI ANNE said...

Best Idea Ever ..thanks, Mr. LKY...To keep our Singapore 🇸🇬 Gum Free...🇸🇬🇸🇬🇸🇬


Hi guys, thanks for the warm response to a sticky subject. For ten cents, you chew the pink gum for 10 hours, creating balloons and mischief on your friend's classroom chair and havoc for the street cleaners.

Henry S. K Koh
"They Who Laugh First Will Laugh Last!!!.😂
Those Countries Who Laughed At SG Banned On Chewing Gums, Got Their Fellow Country People Footwears Gummed And Ass Gummed On Their Seats From The Chewing Gums Left On The Seats!.🤣😂
"This expression has not a great deal to do with laughing, as one might at a good joke. It means that a person who presents what he thinks is a good idea, or a good solution to a problem, is sometimes laughed at, or ridiculed, by other people, who believe that they have a better idea, or a better solution. Eventually, the first person is proved to be right, so he can then say, "I was right all along, so I can now laugh at you, just as you laughed at me." 😇

Andy Young
thanks henry koh. truly a heartfelt comment for the rest of the world. appreciate your excellent view.

Helen Ng
Thank you for sharing Henry. It is for the Best that our government ban this chewing gum. A lot of inconsiderate act that causes inconvenience to many. Appreciate your comment and view. Happy New Year with good wishes to come true.

Andy Young

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yip Dick
Davy Chan
Rose Khoo
Freda Hanum
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Gracie Teo
Terence Kessler
Henry S. K Koh
Juniper Chew
Alice Soo
Sheno Loh
Ian Muckersie
Law Yunru Katlyn
Yuen Ka Wei
Jimalifnur Mohamed
Anna Wong
Mark Roche


I love this blog!! The flash up the top is awesome!!

CHIT CHAT said...

Charlotte Law
Top contributor
I remember Hacks - pink bubble gum and kwatchi 10c packet bought when we went to Ciros cinema - 60’s

Andy Young
Charlotte Law yes, KWATCHI, [dried watermelon seeds], a delicacy and needs a technique to bite the sides and eat the teeny weeny inside. Thanks for such a cute memory.

CHIT CHAT said...

See Kok Wan

Just found out it was late Haji Abu Backer the original makers of HACKS sweets and set up a manufacturing base in Mak Mandin, Penang in mid 1960s!

Andy Young
See Kok Wan hello! Thanks so much for this connection. I think many of our readers are unaware. Myself too!

CHIT CHAT said...

John NG

The most memorable US the HACKS commercial in the cinema.
Used to shout into the girls ears to annoy them.
Would chew a few just before kissing the gf.

Andy Young
John NG hello! You must have been a cheeky young man. Thanks for sharing.🙂

CHIT CHAT said...

Colin Colin
James Kwok
Richard Khan
Freda Hanum
Susan Choo
Zulkifli Abdul Gani
Seh W Kwa
See Kok Wan
Maureen Kwok
Tan Chee Khiang
Damien Mallanyk
Shemeela Sasikumar
Mark Lewis Tan
Francis Ng
Wong Kai Zhee
Jeffrey Keng
Jason Kang
Peter Cheong
Isaacally Isaacally
BK Bay


CHIT CHAT said...

Stanislaus Wee
Chicklet chicklet lang lang ai eh Chiu ni tng🤣

Andy Young
Stanislaus Wee yes, thanks for the very funny hokkien dialect.

Stanislaus Wee
Andy Young that's what I remembered of the advert😆

CHIT CHAT said...

Andy Young
John NG hello! You must have been a cheeky young man. Thanks for sharing.🙂

John NG
Top contributor
Andy Young not cheeky but opportunist!

CHIT CHAT said...

Yuen Weng Soon
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Andy Young
Yuen Weng Soon Thanks!!!

Yuen Weng Soon
Andy Young You are always welcome.

CHIT CHAT said...

Francis Tan
To get rid of stuck chewing gum use kerosene to remove.

Andy Young
Francis Tan thanks for the tip. 🙂

CHIT CHAT said...

Rickson Chua
Francis Tan Or Sun Tan oil will also work especially the one with coconut oil. Actually anything oil base will help remove them.

Andy Young
Rickson Chua hello. Thanks for the tip and visiting this site.


Bubble gum music with their lively and bouncy beat can effectively perk you up whenever you're feeling glum. I believe there was a minister who made a remark in parly probably during the motion to ban the sale of chewing gum here? He likened chewing gummers to cows chewing cud! Incidentally I wonder which type of chewing gum was more popular back then - chewing gum or bubble gum?