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The Forgotten Scandalous History Of The Bubble Beeper

This pack of gum was the coolest candy of the '90s. Even if some parents found it scary.

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Children of the '90s know that the Bubble Beeper was a must-have.

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The nostalgia blog Dinosaur Dracula (which also provided two pics for this story) probably puts it best: "We bought Bubble Beepers for the containers alone, which were to be used as a clip-on coin purses long after the gum had been chewed."

While in the early '90s, beepers were often thought of as the professional accessories of boring lawyers and doctors, in certain parts of the country, they were also signs of ...

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DRUG DEALERS.

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Yeah, that was actually a thing. In a scene in the very first season of The Real World in 1992, one cast member's beeper goes off, and another roommate asks, "Why do you have a beeper? Do you sell drugs?"

In a 1992 article from the Philadelphia Daily News quotes a former DEA agent who is seriously concerned:

"No question about it, because what if it's misinterpreted, and this kid goes through someone's turf wearing that beeper, and they misinterpret that beeper? It could possibly cause someone to lose their life or get hurt...To me, it's similar to carrying a toy gun. If it looks real, you may have to pay the consequences."

But there were defenders of the Bubble Beeper. Take this lady quoted in The Morning Call:

Diane O'Brien, who works with street-wise teen-agers as director of Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime in Allentown, said area youths may not associate beepers exclusively with drug dealers.

"Beepers have gotten to be a fashion accessory," she said, noting that some teens wear "fake beepers" -- nothing more than black plastic boxes -- just to look cool.

"It's stylish, so you can look important. ... Anybody that's anybody has a beeper," she said.

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