"Everything Has A History" explores Parker Brothers' 1971 toy, the "Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit"

Originally published at: "Everything Has A History" explores Parker Brothers' 1971 toy, the "Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit" | Boing Boing


The interesting thing here is that this well-intentioned kit predates the fossil-fuel industry disinfo campaigns and the ascendance of neoliberal ideology that both insisted that individuals rather than corporations and institutions were responsible for environmental degradation. It’s another small piece of evidence of the toxic strain of “rugged individualism” long buried in American culture (I suppose the cowboy mascot is a big clue as well).


I assumed they just copied Mark Trail and put a hat on him.


Seems to me that this article stops barely short of blaming the climate crisis on a toy company for lacking the foresight to encourage younglings to sign up with Greenpeace.

I look at it the other way: it might have sparked at least a few kids to get more involved with environmental causes. But we will never know for sure, because it was just a freakin’ toy!



That’s the point - it’s not just a toy. The material things we interact with actively shape us and helps us to understand the world, and our place within it… :woman_shrugging: Everything does have a history and things like this matter as much as wars and politics, frankly, and should be put into a larger context to make that clear.

Most likely, this came out of the author’s larger body of work, and so she likely spent years on this particular topic and how it relates to environmentalism…


Quite possibly, although 1971 more-or-less dates the beginning of the end for all things “Western” for kids. Parker may have sensed that but suffered the Bureau of Land Management’s mascot. Hard though to leverage off of the popularity of sci-fi and crime dramas when marketing an environmental test kit to kids. Now, if the kit had gone out in the 1950s, well, Bob’s your uncle!


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