WOLF: Would you chew a piece of 32-year-old hockey card gum?

COLUMN: Reader sends in package that sparks nostalgic thoughts
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An opened pack of hockey cards (complete with gum) from 1991-92, sent in by a reader. (Philip Wolf photo)

So Al… I tried the gum.

A short while back, I pieced together a column on some of the world’s best smells.

Noted on the list was hockey card gum.

“Could be number one on the list,” I said. “Now, actually eating the shards of pink glass is another story.”

Fast forward to last week, and an envelope arrived at the office. For me.

“Wonder what it is?” I asked aloud, giving it a little shake and hearing a rattle. “From Chilliwack.”

Inside was a nice letter from Al (last name withheld so folks don’t ask him for free stuff), which I admittedly didn’t read until after exclaiming “it’s hockey cards!” and inspecting my glorious and unexpected windfall.

There were two packs of unopened hockey cards from 1991-92.

“Not sure if there is any fragrance or not but they have been stored in a sealed container, thanks again for your column,” wrote Al.

“P.S. Don’t advise you chew the gum, LOL. However, a buddy of mine did and he survived.”

It was indeed the gum that was the first thing I noticed.

Neither pack had the familiar intact stick of gum. The years had taken their toll, with one stick broken into a few shards and the one in the other pack shattered into 20-plus fragments.

“Should I try to chew it?” I briefly wondered to myself, before turning back to the cards.

It was immediately like being a kid again, shuffling through hockey cards, looking for a hidden gem as I read their names out louds.

“Gary Nylund; Patrik Sundstrom; ooh, a Gretzky award winner; Jacques Cloutier; Ron Hextall; Greg Adams (the card just said Greg Adams, but I saw the picture and said ‘Greg C. Adams’ out loud); ooh, a Kamensky rookie…” and on and on.

Of particular interest were a pair of ‘Soviets vs. NHL’ cards, of Andrei Kvartlanov and Igor Stelnov, a pair of names my mind thought it remembered but wasn’t sure.

Each had a piece of the gum essentially welded onto the front, and there was no getting it off.

READ MORE: WOLF: What do bacon, baseball gloves and hockey card gum have in common?

Pondering the chemicals involved in that process but noting it was still pink, I made the only rational decision.

I was going to chew some of it.

Not wishing to keel over alone, I summoned intrepid reporter Kevin Forsyth.

“Hey Kevin, want to try some 30-year-old hockey card gum with me?”

“Sure.”

We each selected our own little shard, and the experiment was on.

At first, there was no taste at all. There was certainly no hope of it doing gum-like things and allowing us to continue chewing.

‘Kinda gets stuck up in the old molars,” observed Kevin. “Not bad. Just tastes like powder. Can’t chew it, so I might just have to eat it.”

“Nah, don’t do that,” I said, spitting the remains of the fragments into the garbage.

Kevin smartly had something on hand to drink, whereas I had to endure the aftertaste, which was somewhere between fresh hockey card gum and licking a rubber dish mat.

All in all, a delightful exercise.

It’s been years since I had the pleasure of shuffling through some packs of hockey cards. Talk about instantly transporting yourself back in time.

And it’s been even longer since I tried to chew hockey card gum. I’ll probably ignore that bit of nostalgia moving forward.

If anyone else has some throwback items they’d like to send in, don’t hold back. Always happy to take a fun look back.

But I think my days of trying any food or drink items from more than three decades ago are done.

Thanks for the laughs, Al. Very much appreciated.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf welcomes your questions, comments and story ideas. He can be reached at 250-905-0029, or via email at [email protected].



Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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