Like most kids, I was a hardcore gum and candy connoisseur... and I had a mouth full of fillings to prove it.
Cue Bay City Rollers.
Classic gumballs, Dubble Bubble, Dentyne, Trident, Fruit Stripes, Big League Chew, Blow Pops, Bubblicious, Chiclets, Tiny Chiclets, Freshen-up, Razzle, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba. You name it, I chewed it.
Little did I know, as I was perfecting my bubble blowing skills in the rural Midwest, a quiet alley in Central California was slowly being plastered with the used gum. Lots and lots of used gum.
Fast forward a few decades to this week's random stroll down a unique SLO landmark: Bubblegum Alley
Located between 733 and 734 Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, this 15-foot high by 70-foot long alley is said to have been started by students as early as the 50s. Surviving two power washes in its early years, it eventually became a protected attraction that continues to be decorated with the used gum of passers-by.
Teenage girls giggle and ask me to take their picture, a father and son add their gum to the wall, and a mother reminds her kids "not to touch anything" as she fumbles with her iphone to capture their huge smiles ~
It's not exactly sanitary, and there are items stuck in gum that are a bit cringe worthy, but this remarkable sight is worth the trip if you find yourself in the area. Whether you view as a form of art or a sticky eyesore, Bubblegum Alley is a memorable experience that seems to bring out the kid in each of its visitors, regardless of age.
I may no longer chew gum, but this was definitely a fun one to check off my bucket list.
© Natalie Starnes