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Bazooka bubble gum axes Bazooka Joe comics after 59 years

As part of an overhaul of its logo and packaging, the 65-year-old Bazooka bubblegum is replacing its red, white and blue color scheme and dropping the tiny Bazooka Joe comic strip that’s wrapped each piece of the pink candy since 1953. Yes, first Twinkies, and now the eyepatch-wearing Joe.

The New York Times reports the new packaging — it’s fuchsia and yellow with graffiti-inspired splattered paint — will begin arriving in stores in January as part of an effort by Topps Company subsidiary Bazooka Candy Brands to revive plummeting sales (from $17 million in 2007 to a projected $8.8 million this year). The new design is already a hit among retailers, with Target, 7-Eleven and Kroger now agreeing to stock the gum in early 2013.

That’s cold comfort to Bazooka Joe and his turtleneck-clad pal Mort, whose cheesy jokes and silly antics will be relegated to the pages of history, replaced by brainteasers, activities and online codes. Not that many of Bazooka’s target audience will mourn their passing: A recent survey found just 7 percent of children age 6 to 12 are aware of Bazooka Joe; of those, only 41 percent liked the character. Perhaps it’s the eyepatch, which turns out to have been a mere fashion accessory all along.

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