The Quick 10: 10 Unfamiliar Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons

We’re all used to seeing Snoopy, Spongebob and Spiderman balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They’re the A-Listers of the parade; the ones everyone anxiously awaits. It hasn’t always been that way, though – before these illustrious inflatables took center stage, there were other stars of the show. Check out these 10 balloons of yesteryear and let us know if you remember any of them.

1. Eddie Cantor. Who? Cantor was a Vaudeville and Broadway star who had transitioned to Hollywood. You might know him if you’ve been watching HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He had been appearing in the parade for five years when the good people of Macy’s decided to honor his loyalty to them with a balloon of his very own. It’s not very flattering though, is it?

2. The Marx Brothers. Technically these guys are “balloonheads,” but they in 1935 they appeared in the parade larger-than-life, but sans Zeppo. The balloonheads were created for the 2003 parade in an attempt to honor the past, but according to most reports, people just seemed confused. While most of us are probably familiar with the Marx Brothers, suffice it to say that a five-year-old is likely not.

3. “Rabbit” is a balloon replica Jeff Koons sculpture that made its first appearance in the parade in 2007. He reminds me of Donnie Darko, but no matter: Macy’s say they intend to use him in parades to come.

4. Ferdinand the Bull. To Disney fans, Ferdinand may not be so obscure – he’s the subject of a 1938 cartoon that won an Oscar. But to the rest of the world, a bull carrying flowers in one hoof doesn’t exactly have the recognition that Mickey Mouse does.

5. The Katzenjammers. Once a staple on the comics page and in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Katzenjammer Family has drifted out of our vernacular like their balloon alter egos of the 1920s. You can see Mama Katzenjammer in the forefront below.

6. The Terrible Turk. The Terrible Turk was, in part, the creation of Bil Baird. Baird later became a famous puppeteer, so his scale changed quite a bit.

7. Linus the Lionhearted. Originally the mascot for a cereal called “Heart of Oats,” Linus was popular enough in the ‘60s to get his own cartoon show. But he was also a spokesperson for Crispy Critters cereal (hey, sometimes a lion has to work two jobs to make ends meet) and when the FCC ruled in 1969 that cartoon characters couldn’t hawk products on their own programs, Linus was axed. He lived on in the parade until 1991, however, when it was determined that he needed to make way for new advertising characters (Cheeseasaurus Rex, Snuggle Bear).

8. Father Knickerbocker. The good father stuck his long nose into the business of the Lincoln Square elevated train line during the 1936 parade, requiring emergency surgery so he could finish his parade route.
9. Officer SOS 13. It took 3,600 policemen to corral the million-plus spectators who gathered to watch the parade in 1937. Well, make that 3,601 – Officer SOS was on hand as well.

10. Nantucket Sea Monster. At 120 feet long, swimmers would certainly not be happy to see this beast rising from the depths to greet them.

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Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

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