Yesterday, readers thrilled as Carson opened up what was seriously the worst pack of baseball cards of all-time. Though we each in turn smiled at the Phelpsness of life, the reader’s attention was inevitably drawn to the shattered dead-pink remains of the Topps Chewing Gum, that Proustian Madeline that instantly transports us back to our own childhoods. As is often true of the old and regretful, we tend to heap scorn upon the impetuousness of our youth and the gum that recalls it. This is in error.
We owe much to the gum of yesteryear. When Jonas Salk first tested the polio vaccine in 1952, he implemented it not through intravenous methods but through the distribution of an upstart baseball card company’s chewing gum. The success of the 1952 Topps set saved thousands of lives and paved the way for the elimination of the dread disease worldwide.
After this first success, Topps experimented with other beneficial effects in its chewing gum, and despite an unsuccessful 1956 issue partnered with Aldous Huxley to include mescaline in every piece, many of the results were positive. Topps fortified its gum ingredients with St. John’s Wort, riboflavin, and sawdust from a game-used Ted Williams bat. A scientific study in the mid 80s estimated that athletic performance of kids chewing Topps chewing gum was enhanced “at a level ranking somewhere between ingesting an orange M&M and a green one” (McCloskey, 1985). [Editor’s Note: The discovery of the home-run hitting effects and the general proliferation of green M&M’s, rather than steroids, proved to be the true cause of the inflated statistics of the past twenty years.]
Anyone still doubtful of the curative properties of Topps Chewing Gum need only look upon the following graph, and despair.
Clearly, there is a childhood obesity crisis in America, and we are in deep trouble. There is one solution. I beg you, dear readers, go find all the unopened 1987 Topps packs you can. Use a mortar and pestle, and stir the powder into your children’s milk or macaroni and cheese. Do it now, before it’s too late. This has been a NotGraphs Public Service Announcement.
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