The Middle Way

Zen Spot #239 - Mindfulness, meditation and the Buddha of Bazooka Joe January 8, 2020 00:00


Twenty-four years ago I founded a graphic design studio that specialized in toy packaging. A sensible choice, since the three partners met at Tyco Toys.

Our portfolio earned entrance into most companies that marketed products designed to appeal to children. In hindsight, creating graphics whose sole purpose were to induce a frenzied tantrum was a dubious moral venture at best. In the moment, the opportunity to create playful graphics seemed wonderful . Time has a way of putting one's choices in perspective. 

Rock hard

I performed business development for the studio. Among the clients I pursued was The Topps Company, maker of the baseball cards I loved as a child. Turned out Topps also owned Bazooka bubble gum. Not quite a brand on par with Coca Cola, but still a defining American consumer brand, I was excited about redesigning their packaging line to reflect a more contemporary feel.

As my business partner and I were in the elevator leaving the company's offices, the solution came to him fully formed. Thirty minutes after we returned to home, he had the entire project mapped out and the basics of the redesign in place. His creative ability was incredible.

Over the course of the following weeks, he designed dozens of different plastic buckets, boxes, displays and wrappers for what seemed like a million different rock hard flavors. Rock hard. Chewing a piece of Bazooka bubble gum right out of the wrapper is like chewing a car tire.  

Joe Buddha

During the first few chomps, the chewer was usually reading the Bazooka Joe comic wrapped around every tire. It didn’t occur to me until years later that, somewhere on the planet, an artist/writer needed to actually create the comics. I like to imagine that the artist was mindful, perhaps choosing to cram a quote from The Buddha into a comic.



About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?