Kid Stuff #15: Wham-O!
Wham-O creators Arthur "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr
Richard Knerr and Spud Melin had been friends since high school. They'd gone to college together and opened a used car business together. But it was their love of falconrey that actually sparked a chain of events that would lead to the Frisbee, Hula-Hoop, and the Slip 'n' Slide.
Richard and Spud would shoot bits of meat into the air for their falcons to grab. To do this, they fashioned their own sling-shot. One day, a man approached them wanting to get a hold of a sling shot like theirs.... the rest, as they say, is history. The partners went to Sears and got a saw, and then some lumber and strips of rubber. They put ads in magazines in comic books for their sling shots, and earned enough capital to make more items.
And make more items they did. The breadth and scope of their products is simply too much to cover in a post. They sold any odd thing that came to mind - most were amazingly bad failures, but a select few became national crazes. The Hula-Hoop nearly bankrupted them, until a year later (1958) the fad swept the country. Other items like the "mink navel stole" (a quarter sized patch to cover up women's belly buttons) never quite caught on.
Here's a look at some of the products sold by this one-of-a-kind company, Wham-O!
Somehow, I don't see this product making it to the shelves in this day and age. Parents are so protective, and society is so litigenous, I think a toy that can shoot through quarter inch plywood might create some problems.
If ever there was a poorly named toy, this is it. Not only do you have the name "wiennie", but it's shaped like a dick, it goes from flaccid to rigid when it's filled, and it spews white liquid.
Do remember anyone walking around with a green plate strapped to their heads? Me neither. I bet this item got a lot of stares when put to use.
Okay, I take it back. The Water Wiennie is not the worst toy name ever.
Exactly how does this make your boobs bigger? I'm afraid I'm at a loss on this one.
I can actually see this item being sold today at Bed, Bath & Beyond -there's so many gimmicky cookware there, why not the Mr. Hootie Rake?
"40 Million May Die... How About You".... now in "Patio Style"!
It certainly did not gush forth like in this picture. My God, it's like the space shuttle! Your hose likely didn't have half the pressure as in this picture. Ours flopped around the yard; barely getting airborn.
Wham-O's Laugh-In rocks very nearly could've been the next sensation to take the country by storm.... had it been shaped like a football. Indeed, that same year, another company, Nerf, use the same chemistry to create a foam ball. Needless to say, the fake rocks didn't fare so well.