Terrific longread on the origins of Wham-O


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/01/terrific-longread-on-the-origi.html


#2

“You’ll chop your eye out!”

1950_ad_for_jungle_machete

"Before Knerr and Melin dominated the novelty toy market in the 1950s, they specialized in weaponry no suburban child should have had any use for. In addition to a “jungle machete,” Wham-O sold throwing daggers, a tomahawk, and fencing swords. (The company tried separating the two markets by selling their killing tools under the name Wam-O, fooling no one.) " MF

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#3

I love wham-o. One of my earliest memories (literally) is of this stuff:

superstuff


#4

a mink button that could cover a woman’s navel…

The sexism of this era is unbelievable. Male navels are no different from female navels, and yet where is the manly mink button? Where, I ask?


#5

Wot, no mention of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Elastic_Bubble_Plastic


#6

So “The Hudsucker Proxy” was all a lie?


#7

God. In retrospect, the chemical stench of that stuff terrifies me.


#8

*from Blammo!


#9

You beat me to it!


#10

But what is “the biggest non-fun toy?” :thinking:


#11

Don’t forget Super Ball. I still have one of these and it bounces like new despite being 52 years old. When I was a kid, these would usually bounce high enough to end up in the second-story gutter on my parents’ home, never to be seen again.
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#12

Good times. Cannot see one now without thinking of SNL’s Happy Fun Ball.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball…


#13

'You know, for kids."


#14

I animated the snow

:slight_smile:


#15

You know, for kids!


#16

I grew up in Rosemead, Ca. about 1/2 mile away from the Wham-O factory there in San Gabriel. Their factory was right up against the wash that me and my friends would always explore. Never had to buy a frisbie, super ball or super elastic bubble plastic. We would just show up at their office right near the loading docks and ask for free stuff. Never was turned down. They were always friendly and we always walked away with something new. Funny thing though, they never gave us a hoola-hoop. Great times and great memories. Thanks Wham-O!


#17

Somehow mine kept getting run over by cars, and they would explode.

You can still buy the things (though not in the little marble size, which I loved), but the new ones do not bounce as well as the ones from the 60s.


#18

I still have the original Wham-O product–their slingshot, purchased in the mid '50s. I use it a lot more than I use guns.


#19

Woogers is actually a good name for the things. I don’t like them.


#20

I wonder whether they might revive this one.