Example: [Fine, 1992]
Apparently some little kids in either New York or Chicago started telling people that the reason Bubble Yum was so soft was because the gum had spider legs in it. It spread all over the country apparently because as I was chewing a piece of Bubble Yum talking to the clerk, someone came in and asked for Spider Leg Gum.
Origins: Bubble Yum was the first soft bubble gum to hit the market, making its debut in 1976. It was an instant success with its target consumer group, kids and teens, and sales of the candy quickly soared to such a level that its manufacturer cut back on advertising in order to allow production to keep pace with demand.
By the spring of the following year, the whirlwind early sales had slipped noticeably in the
Rather than pretend there wasn't a problem or that it would just go away, the parent company took on the rumors:
But in one bizarre case, the manufacturer felt it had no choice but to put the issue before its customers as conspicuously as possible. The manufacturer was the Life
Where did the rumor come from? Prior to Bubble Yum, bubble gum was hard and took a fair bit of vigorous mastication to render it into a suitably soft bubble-blowing state. Bubble Yum was a breakthrough, a gum that was ready for bubble blowing after being chomped only a few times. As to how soft it was, even a little tyke could squish a block of Bubble Yum between his fingers. Gone were the days of arduous chewing!
Any confection that revolutionary is going to spawn speculation among the younger set. (See our "Death of Little Mikey" page for the rumor about Pop Rocks.) "Why is it so chewy?" was the question on everyone's lips. Why did it (unlike traditional bubble gum) feel a bit slippery in the mouth? It didn't take long for kids to invent a plausible answer. There had to be something slippery in there. What could be more slippery than, say, spider eggs?
Barbara "candy kiss of the spider woman" Mikkelson
Sightings: Very brief mention is made of this belief during a student bull session in the 1998 slasher classic Urban Legend.
Last updated: 24 January 2007
Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good To Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 193-194). Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Vanishing Hitchhiker. New York: W. W. Norton, 1981. ISBN 0-393-95169-3 (pp. 89-90). de Vos, Gail. Tales, Rumors and Gossip. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (pp. 150-151). Lardner, James. "The Fear of Buying." The Washington Post. 21 October 1982 (p. D1). Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker. Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0-14-007036-2 (pp. 70-71). Library of Curious and Unusual Facts: Manias and Delusions. Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1992. ISBN 0-8094-7731-9 (pp. 19-20).
Also told in:
The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 174).