Whether you were playing with your friends or gleefully terrorizing your siblings, few things brought as much joy growing up as NERF’s wide array of toys. Below, 11 fun facts about NERF. Plus, a contest to win a bunch of awesome NERF products—see details below!
1. The name NERF actually comes from a strange source—drag racing. In the late ‘60s, foam-covered bars, sometimes called “nerf bars,” were put on the front of the trucks that pushed racers to the starting line. This prevented damage to the cars.
2. The first NERF product—a 4-inch polyurethane foam ball—was developed by Twister inventor Reyn Guyer in 1969. It was introduced in 1970 by Parker Brothers as the world’s first indoor ball, and by year’s end, millions had been sold.
3. Hey hey, they’re the Monkees—and they appeared in a commercial for NERF balls in 1970.
4. A key part of NERF's early advertising was the line "Throw it indoors; you can't damage lamps or break windows. You can't hurt babies or old people."
5. The NERF football was invented by Minnesota Vikings kicker Fred Cox. It hit shelves in 1972. NERFoop, a basketball game, came out that same year, followed by living room baseball in 1983.
6. The product you know as the Super Soaker was originally called the Power Drencher. It was invented by aerospace engineer Lonnie Johnson and the first model hit the market in 1989. (Super Soakers would become a NERF product in 2010.)
7. In 1992—its biggest year—NERF released its very first dart blaster, the NERF Sharpshooter, and the NERF slingshot, which was accompanied by a delightfully weird commercial starring Seth Green.
Green wasn’t the only future star to hone his skills in a NERF commercial. Devon Sawa also appeared in a 1993 commercial for the brand:
8. On-set prankster George Clooney is a fan of using NERF products to terrorize his co-stars. According to Anna Kendrick, who starred alongside Clooney in Up in the Air, "He would be playing with Nerf balls on set, so I was trying to dodge Nerf balls while getting prepared for a scene." Ryan Gosling, who was directed by and starred with Clooney in the film Ides of March, had a similar experience: “There was a certain point we had a Nerf gun behind the camera and if he didn’t like a take, he’d shoot.”
9. NERF has appeared on a number of TV shows, including The Office, 30 Rock, Modern Family, and Chuck.
10. In the past 5 years, NERF has sold enough darts to circle the globe four times.
11. NERF designers have a number of areas where they can test prototypes, including a large warehouse where they simulate inside environments like basements, bedrooms, cubicles, and dorm rooms. Sounds like a dream job!
AND NOW, A CONTEST!
In the comments, tell us your favorite summertime NERF memory. We'll pick our favorite story, and the winner gets a NERF prize pack with five NERF products: NERF N-STRIKE ELITE ROUGH CUT Blaster, NERF SUPER SOAKER ARCTIC SHOCK Water Blaster, NERF FIREVISION SPORTS FLYER Set, NERF N-SPORTS PRO GRIP Football, and NERF VORTEX DIATRON Blaster. You have until midnight PST this Friday, June 14, to enter. Good luck!