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Bbbl is an iPad app designed to create financial literacy among kids (ages 8-14). The app works in conjunction with trading cards that are given with chewing gum wrappers. Kids can collect these trading cards and register them in the app to gain in-app currency “pops”, which can then be used in various ways. 

The child can gain more pops by registering new trading cards, with more pops for including an unopened gum wrapper or by chewing gum in front of the camera and blowing bubbles. These pops can be used to purchase real toys within the app. Other features include being able to buy and sell cards, holding auctions for special edition cards (like Star Wars themed cards), the ability to add toys to a wish list and assigning pops for specific toys, slowly reaching the purchase price over time. Every time a card is added or sold, a part of the value is taken away as taxes and the child can assign a certain portion to be automatically added to the charity bag. The child can select toys that they want to donate and budget some of their pops to be used for donating these toys. 

Originating from a chewing wrapper, bbbl was developed as a way of exploiting the volume of gum consumed annually and using it as a medium to affect some social change. The amount of gum consumed per year is about 560 thousand tons, which is roughly 187 billion hours of chewing. During the research into chewing gum consumption, I came across this quote, “Chewing gum is functional food, with function, but no food”. This statement changed my perspective of how I looked at this piece of trash and make it something that is valuable, more that its own monetary value.  

bbbl chewing gum packaging

Trading cards on the back of the bbbl chewing gum wrappers

The process began with 100 sketches exploring ideas around redesigning chewing gum packaging and creating some initial prototypes. This then developed into two storyboards, one of them exploring gum packaging as a means to connect strangers and the other was looking at a speculative future where the nuisance of gum disposal leads to a global ban on chewing gum, leading to a black-market underworld gum production. The next step involved creating business models collaborating with established brands and writing press releases for these new businesses. At this point, the project pivoted to the current concept of using gum packaging to educate children about money.