Ko-Ko Tulu Chewing Gum — A Memphis Best-Selling Brand



Did you know that I am still perusing the 60-year-old back issues of the Lowen-Behold, the newsletter of Lowenstein's department stores? Two reasons for that: 1) They are filled with amazing stories, and 2) I really, honestly, and truly have nothing better to do. Sad, I know.

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you: an early 1900s advertisement for one of the store's top-selling products. Yep, chewing gum. But not Wrigley or Dentyne, or Super-Bubble. No, this gum had the rather bizarre name of Ko-Ko Tulu (which they never bothered to explain).

But it must have been good stuff because, after all, it was "The Standard of the World" and Sol Coleman — whoever he was — wouldn't lie about a thing like that would he? Or would he? Hmmm.

You'll notice that the ads back then didn't claim that this gum actually tasted good. Apparently that wasn't even a consideration. Instead, Ko-Ko Tulu "perfumes the breath," "will aid Digestion," and — an important consideration when selecting your chewing gum — "will not Crumble."

And finally, the most important feature of all: "It will not injure the System." What "system" they mean is not clear, but oh the hospitals of the day were no doubt filled with unfortunate patients who had foolishly purchased the wrong chewing gum, and now faced the rest of their days in a nursing home, with damaged Systems. All because they didn't listen to Sol Coleman.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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