While being interviewed, Greg asked me what I was planning on writing and covering with the blog and I told him one thing I really wanted to report on is all the gum in the Northwoods Mall. Both Greg and Dan looked at me like I was nuts (a look I’ve gotten to know very well in my life) so I explained that that place houses more gumball machines than I’ve ever seen in my life. It borders on insanity and I feel it my duty to report about the gigantic gaggle of gum in Northwoods Mall and see if I can get some answers about it. It’s time to get all Mike Wallace on Northwoods Mall’s ass and find out what in the name of sweet gum is going on over there!
Here we are at gumball central, a.k.a. Northwoods Mall.
Let's go in and see an obscene amount of gumball machines.
Just a few steps in and I can spot the first island of madness.
Check out all the gumball machines on this island. And I know that some of them house candy, I just call these kind of machines, gumball machines no matter what's inside of them.
Spellcheck alert! (And yes, this is coming from the same bozo that misspelled Saturday two days ago.)
I've always thought that the name "jawbreaker" was a strange name for a candy item. But these maniacs have inserted the words "time bomb" in front of it. Yeah, I really want to put something in my mouth that's going to break my jaw and then minutes later blow up my entire skull. Who makes this stuff, the Taliban Wham-O Corporation?
Now you'd think that that's all the gum you would ever need to have in one mall, but what's that up ahead?
Yee gods, it's a gumball machine with a thyroid condition!
I decided to give this amazon gumball machine a test run. The quarter goes in...
The gumball slides down the circular tubes...
And out comes the pink little bowling ball-like gumball. Hey...are you seeing what I'm seeing? I've got my thumb inside a Cardboard Box Man Mutation's mouth. Aaaahhh!
Okay, between the giant island of gum and the amazon gumball machine that houses a Cardboard Box Man Mutation, you'd think that's more gum than this mall needs to have, but let's go upstairs for a quick tour.
Fee-fi-fo-fum, methinks I see a lot more gum!
Holy shitballs, there's over twenty more gumball machines up here! Is there really that many people chewing gum in here? Am I the only one that's starting to get nervous over this?
I thought, "Time Bomb Jawbreaker" was a weird name for a candy item, but check out the machine on the far right: "Tear Jerker Guts." What the hell is that even about? What sick, twisted piece of maniacal shit would even think about putting those words on a gumball machine?
Look at the Mega Fruit gumballs, these are giant gumballs that sell for a dollar apiece. I have to see one of these things out of the machine.
When life hands you a gumball the size of an actual lemon, don't try to make lemonade out of it, just count your dollar loss and walk away from the gumball island before anymore damage is done.
I was heading towards the exit, thinking that there could be no more gum to be had in the Northwoods Mall, when I spy something up ahead...
Another island of over twenty gumball machines! Am I the only one who is seeing the insanity in all of this? Who needs all this stinking gum!
And these people claim they're selling "Gourmet Gumballs." This really cranks my ass in the wrong direction. I hate the way people throw out the word, "gourmet" these days. And that's a pretty bold statement calling these gumballs, "earth's best gumballs." I'm pretty sure they're no better than any other of the thousands of gumballs housed in the many gumball machines in this mall, but if you're going to make such a bodacious claim, why not go all the way and say, "the best gumballs in the universe." I mean the last I heard, Mars wasn't selling any gum over on their planet!
Okay, downstairs these are "Fun Time" candy that breaks your jaw and explodes your skull, but up here, they're magically transformed into a "gourmet" candy. After counting up the gumball machines on this island, the grand total is 68 gumball machines in the Northwoods Mall! Okay, I've had enough, time to go look for some answers from some of the merchants in this place!
I remember when this mall opened in 1973 and a lot of the original stores are gone. But Zales has been here since the beginning, I believe. I went in and talked to two women working there. I told them I was doing an investigative piece on all the gumball machines in the mall and they just looked frightened and said I couldn't take their picture. Had someone gotten to them before I got there? As gumball conspiracy theories were dancing in my head, they did tell me that Helzberg's Diamond's had been in the mall longer that they had. I don't know if they were trying to be helpful or just get rid of me, but I decided to go to Helzberg's to see if anyone there would go on the record about the sea of gum in this place.
Okay, here we are at Helzberg's Diamonds, let's see if anyone here will go on the record!
Don Kellett, the store manager was kind enough to talk to me. He said he had no idea that there were 68 gumball machines in the mall. Not the definitive quote I was looking for, but I was able to get rid of that giant lemon gumball and all the other sticky gumballs I had collected on my journey, so I decided to call it a day. Investigative journalism is tiresome, thankless work and I had had enough!
As I was heading towards the exit, I ran into an old friend, Mike Flores (on the right) owner of Flores Music, a shop that's been in business in Peoria for years! I need to do a shop hop there soon, so stay tuned for that. He's pictured here with Victor, who manages the store. See you soon, guys!
On my way out I passed this "Hurricane Simulator." A quick note to the makers of this fine item: Don't try and market it in New York anytime soon, I don't think it would be very popular! See you all tomorrow!