Hometown Tales Podcast

Sunday, December 28, 2008

San Luis Obis, CA - Bubblegum Alley

In the year 1928 bubble gum was invented by Walter Diemer; an accountant from Philadelphia. Across the country in San Luis Obis, has invention has help to create Bubble Gum Alley (at once one of the coolest and most disgusting sights you’ll ever see.)

No one is sure how this tradition got started, but for some reason, everyone who passes through this alley leaves their gum on the walls. In the early 1960’s a few wads of gum appeared stuck on a wall in the alley, then more and more. By the 1970’s the shop owners complained and demanded the gum to be cleaned off but it was too late, because the gum just kept appearing.

There are tens of thousands of multicolored wads squished one on top of another creating a pop culture frieze 70 feet long and 15 feet high. At the top, the gobs have been blackened by age and weather. Only in America can you investigate bubble gum erosion.

Every day, forty million pieces of bubble gum are chewed and about 300 people visit Bubble Gum Alley. They get creative, too: high relief sculptures of names and faces are now the latest trend.

Photo Courtesy of Shannon Ortega