In the world today we always come across fads that have been rejuvenated from the past or some that are just still around but not extremely popular. We find fads in things like clothing, actions of individuals and toys and gadgets. Some of them are extremely silly while others are taken very seriously but no matter what they always tend to change our society. They created the popular cultures of the past and are always continuous. In the 1940’s the Slinky was one of the most popular fads that caught worldwide attention and is still around today. A “Slinky” is Eighty-Seven feet of flat wire coiled into three inch diameter circles, standing two inches high when stacked. Its springlike appearance and structure allows it to walk down stairs and stretch apart.
In 1945 around the time of the Vietnam War, a naval engineer named Richard James was developing an anti-vibration device for ship instruments which consisted of springs when by mistake he knocked over a few springs and was amazed at how they appeared to walk down the shelves in his working area. He then came up with the name “Slinky” which is Swedish for healthy, sleek and graceful.
He then made a number of these toys and decided to sell them at the Gimbel’s Department store in Philadelphia during the winter of 1945, just in time for the Christmas season. At that time he sold them for one dollar each so that he could attract the public’s eye to the fascinating toy so that they might then eventually buy one. The toy was a success and all toys that he had were sold that day. Since then over a billion have been sold worldwide and the toy is still made in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania with the original equipment Richard James created. But the toy now has a crimp at the end of its wire for safer play. They also come in different sizes and colors.
The Slinky’s popularity can be measured by its appearances in movies such as Ace Ventura- When Nature Calls, Demolition Man, Other People’s Money, Hairspray and Toy Story. Slinky also became the first Toys to travel to Space. It also had its own stamps in the 1940’s to remember it. U.S Soldier’s eventually started using it as antennas, throwing it into a tree and stretching it to their communication equipment. The toy’s definite popularity was due to all the different possibilities it posed not only for children as toys but also as instruments for serious events and scenes in movies. The Slinky jingle has become classic and the commercial on television has been the most continuous commercial on T.V than any other national commercial jingle.
“What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound? A spring, a spring, a marvellous thing! Everyone knows it’s Slinky. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s fun for a girl or a boy.” The jingle also has its different translated versions in Spanish, French and other languages so that everyone will be familiar with the Toy.
What the Slinky tells me about society at that time and the time it became popular is that when the Vietnam War was occurring, a lot of the men went off to war and there was not a lot of money in the family. The women did not work at that time but eventually started working. Even though the women started working funds were still low to survive. Everyone started rationing their money and everything from the food they bought, to the clothes they wore, to the toys that the children played with were not the normal things they ate and had before the war. It was the perfect time for the Slinky because the toy did not cost the women a lot of money to purchase since they were cheap.
This then boosted the potential for buying these toys for their children because they captured the attention of their children for hours at a time for a low cost. This was important so that the women could focus on using the rest of their money on food and clothing and not worrying as much about their children since they were happy with their Slinky Toys. The Slinky proved to be one of the most famous and popular toys of all time. It caught the attention of many and made its own popular culture. The slinky is still being made and sold all over the world today after 50 years and the jingle continues to assign the catchy sing-a-long commercials that formulated from 1945.