Bubblegum Pink, Bubblegum Popped
Oh Bubblegum: I really don’t like her very much at all. She’s silly, slutty, and superficial. At first she’s attention grabbing and seemingly full of flavorful life, but I always quickly lose my taste for her. Beyond her initial flourish of lighthearted happiness, she becomes overwhelmingly bland, leaving only a trace of froth behind her.
Rich, lurid, lollipop pink: that’s Bubblegum. For sure, the color pink is inspired by some of nature’s loveliest treasures: flowers—particularly Spring blossoms—and romantic, bleeding sunsets. But Bubblegum is a girl of gaudy, synthetic pink who has been picked up by some very dubious types.
She’s right in the thick of the cupcake craze that’s been spreading its saccharine, crack-like cheer all over Gotham, ever since Carrie Bradshaw visited Magnolia Bakery in “Sex and the City.” Magnolia is Bubblegum’s temple: she slicks herself over the top of the cakes, enticing zombie tourists and feeding the corrosion of gritty New York cool.
Barbie and Paris Hilton are her gal pals. Plastic and ridiculously fantastic together, they are catcalled for embodying the dark side of contemporary culture: our hunger for instant visual impact, with no care for scratching the veneer. If we need more, we just change the outfit; switch the channel; have another cupcake. Bubblegum even leads trusty Kitchen Aid cake mixers astray. She inspires a color option in the range, making the usually dignified, sturdy machines look “Fifties” and “fun.”
“Pink is the navy blue of India,” Diana Vreeland once quipped, and exotic Marrakesh is sometimes referred to as the “Rose City” because of its salmon-pink buildings. But Bubblegum’s particular pinkness has no such romantic or sophisticated connotations. Pepto-Bismol and Reese Witherspoon’s lawyer character, Elle Woods, in the film Legally Blonde are about as serious as Bubblegum gets. She’s the substance of all-American tackiness that you just can’t scrape off your shoe.
Bubblegum wasn’t even christened for any profound reason. Her perky pink was the only dye that the American accountant Walter Diemer had left on his shelf when he invented a blowable version of chewing gum. The new gum was a hit, and the market domination of Diemer’s version meant that bubblegum-the-product and bubblegum-the-color have been inextricably linked happily ever after.
How does she sound? Like a high-pitched, squealing tween. How does she taste?
Like a floury sugar, cloying on the tongue. What does she wear? Ruffly, frothy skirts, and high, scrunchie-bound ponytails. She’s playful to a fault. Football teams even use Bubblegum’s lighter-pink younger sister to color the walls of their guest rivals’ changing rooms, because dirty rumor has it that she’s an emasculating energy sapper.
Big, bouncy sister Bubblegum sure saps me. Whenever I see her, I long to dive into a deep, inky pool of indigo blue: to swim down into its murky depths, just to get beneath “surface” and to feel enveloped in something substantial… instead of merely popped in the face by Bubblegum.