Sea-Monkeys is the brand name for brine shrimp – a group of crustaceans that undergo cryptobiosis – often sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets.
Harold von Braunhut invented the product based on brine shrimp in 1957. Ant farms had been popularized the year before by Milton Levine. Initially called “Instant Life”, von Braunhut changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” in 1962. This was based on the supposed resemblance of the animals’ tails to those of monkeys, and their living in salt water. The product was intensively marketed in comic books using illustrations of humanoid animals drawn by the comic book illustrator Joe Orlando, which bear no resemblance to the crustaceans. Von Braunhut is quoted as stating: “I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully.” Many purchasers were disappointed by the dissimilarity, and by the short lifespan of the animals.
Super Elastic Bubble Plastic was the brand name for a children’s toy manufactured from the 1960s through the 80s by Wham-O. It consisted of a tube of viscous plastic substance and a thin straw used to blow semi-solid bubbles. A pea-sized amount of liquid plastic was squirted from the tube and made into a tiny ball. One end of the straw was then inserted into the ball, and the user would blow into the other end, inflating the plastic into a bubble. The bubble could then be removed from the straw by pinching the hole closed, sealing the air inside.
The size of each bubble depended on the amount of plastic used. Roughly the consistency of bubblegum, the bubbles formed were much more durable than simple soap bubbles, and could be gently manipulated to make different shapes, and stacked to make simple figures such as snowmen. Much less durable than actual balloons, however, they could pop easily if overinflated or handled with too much force.
Chemically, the bubbles contained polyvinyl acetate dissolved in acetone, with Ethyl Acetate plastic fortifiers added. The acetone evaporated upon bubble inflation leaving behind a solid plastic film.
Besides the obvious potential for messes when letting children play with liquid plastic, the substance also emitted noxious fumes. The fumes could become concentrated inside the straw, so users had to be careful never to inhale through the straw while inflating their balloons. Because of these problems, Super Elastic Bubble Plastic was eventually discontinued, but other similar brands remain available.
Whether it be Dennis Rodman or the Dream Team, McDonald’s used to be known for it’s collectible cups. Click here to watch a commercial for Batman Returns collectible cups »
Big Stuf Oreo (introduced in 1984) were several times the size of a normal Oreo. Sold individually, each Big Stuf contained 316 calories and 13 grams of fat. They were discontinued in 1991. Click here to watch a commercial »
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