12 Lesser-Known Wham-O Products You Have to See to Believe

Tim Walsh
Tim Walsh

Founded by friends and business partners Rich Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin in 1948, Wham-O is best known for amusement staples like the Hula Hoop, Frisbee, Hacky Sack, and Slip ‘N Slide.

For every hit, however, there were more than a few misses: Knerr and Melin never had to answer to a board of investors and were free to experiment with almost any far-fetched idea that popped into their heads. Check out 12 of their lesser-known offerings—some of which would be impossible to market in litigious, civilized society. 

1. EDGED WEAPONS

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.)    

2. A BLOWGUN

Assuming your child had a machete and a bad attitude, the thing to do would be to simply stay out of arm’s reach. But with the introduction of distance weapons, more covert attacks could be implemented. The company also marketed a slingshot that was packaged with real ball bearings. Surprisingly, none of these resulted in real lawyers filing for real damages.

3. INSTANT FISH

On safari in Africa in the 1960s, Melin discovered a species of fish that lays eggs in dirt; they later hatched after the ground was soaked in rain. Thinking there was money in peddling mud, Melin and Knerr marketed Instant Fish, and took $10 million in pre-orders from retailers. But the fish they brought back never mated in sufficient numbers. Sea Monkeys, which were released around the same time, became the standard in lazy aquariums.

4. GREAT WHITE SHARK TEETH

Wham-O was never one to let a fad pass without trying to capitalize on it. When Jaws became the then-biggest film of all time in 1975, the company marketed a plastic shark-tooth kit that clearly took inspiration from Steven Spielberg and Peter Benchley’s creation. Molded, apparently, from a species that has "probably killed more humans than any other shark." Wear it with pride.

See More: How Wham-O got its start. 

5. MR. HOOTIE EGG RAKE

According to Tim Walsh, author of the Wham-O Super Book, Melin and Knerr probably drew this up just to make themselves laugh. In true Wham-O fashion, it was sold anyway. The idea, according to Melin, was to have a utensil that could remove the string (which he dubbed “woogers”) that connects the yolk to the egg shell; more sophisticated owners could use it as a bar tool for olives. In the end, no one used it for anything.

6. DRAW YARN

It’s unlikely Europeans were all that crazy about—or even aware of—a method by which one would draw using yarn. Then again, who would ever think to check? The company marketed this bizarre art kit in 1959.

7. HOME GYM

Wham-O entered the sporting goods market in the 1950s as a kind of segue between their death utensils and the popular outdoor products that would come later. This Charles Atlas-esque resistance band purported to enhance the female form. Melin and Knerr drew up the ad before any product was made to gauge interest before committing to a production run.

8. SUN-VU

A kind of futuristic sombrero following the space-age trend of the ‘50s, the Sun-Vu promised to shield the face from harmful UV rays. Throwing an entire sheet over one’s head may have been more fashionable.

9. TANK

Figuring kids were their own best energy source, Wham-O marketed this giant, eight-foot-long cardboard tank that was operated by climbing inside and walking on all fours. Due to non-military issue materials (paper), it probably didn’t stand up to the wear and tear of a normal backyard siege.   

10. MONORAIL

Cool kids had train sets; cooler kids had monorails. At least, that’s what Wham-O was counting on. But few amateur conductors saw any significant difference to warrant the $12.95 asking price.

11. TURBO TOPS

Asthmatics were best served avoiding this tabletop game, which required players to huff and puff until light-headed victory set in. Previously known as Knock Yer Top Off, Turbo Tops was one of Wham-O's final releases under Melin and Knerr's original ownership: They sold the company in 1982. 

12. BOMB SHELTER COVER

Consumers needed to supply their own ditch-digging in order to survive nuclear annihilation. Released to capitalize on Cold War paranoia, people thought the concept of preparing for doom too depressing to labor over.

See more: How Wham-O got its start

All images courtesy of Tim Walsh.

Nickelback Responds to Once Upon a Deadpool Trailer Shout-Out

Mike Windle, Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Mike Windle, Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Fans of the Merc With a Mouth were curious when it was announced that a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 would be coming to theaters. Many people assumed it would likely just be a severely edited version of the original film that cut out some of the most R-rated jokes so that younger audiences could enjoy it, too. Those people were wrong.

While the redux, which has been dubbed Once Upon a Deadpool, is essentially the same film (albeit with less vulgarity), this time around it's being told in the style of The Princess Bride. Yep, the film features Deadpool telling his story to an all-grown-up Fred Savage, who starred in the 1987 Rob Reiner classic.

The new add-on to Deadpool 2 opens up a lot of opportunity for comedic banter between the two, and a new trailer confirms just that. The clip shows an argument between Deadpool and Fred, where they have a disagreement about the talent of the rock band Nickelback.

When Fred calls Nickelback “over-produced, formulaic ear garbage,” Deadpool takes it personally and reminds the former child actor of the band’s many impressive achievements.

After Fred apologizes, it hilariously becomes evident that he, too, is indeed a fan. And the two break out in song with Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me.”

Deadpool fans and even Nickelback haters loved the teaser—and the band took notice, too.

For the record, Nickelback's divisiveness as a band has been such a hot-button topic that, in 2016, a Finnish researcher actually conducted a study on why the Canadian rockers engender so much hate. Her conclusion? They're too safe, a little boring, and just too damn popular.

Once Upon a Deadpool will arrive in theaters for a limited run on December 12, 2018.

Ralphie's House From A Christmas Story Is Available to Rent

Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

From Chinese restaurant Christmas dinners to receiving embarrassing gifts from an aunt, many viewers can relate to Ralphie Parker's holiday experience in 1983's A Christmas Story. Now fans of the beloved film—which is celebrating its 35th anniversary—can live it firsthand: As WLWT5 reports, the Parker house from A Christmas Story is available to rent on a nightly basis.

Located in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, the iconic childhood home of the movie's narrator is open to the public year-round. During the day, guests can take a guided tour of the house where Ralphie almost shot his eye out. The interior is decorated to match the movie's 1940s setting, complete with a leg lamp in the living room window.

At night, the building's private third floor is available for guests to rent out. The loft, which includes a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom, can accommodate six people at a time. Rates start at $395 per night, though the price varies depending on the time of year.

Whether you're spending the night at Ralphie's or just visiting for a tour, your trip also includes admission to the Christmas Story Museum across the street. There you'll find original memorabilia from the film, including Randy's snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields's classroom, and the Parker family's car.

To book your stay, head over to the house and museum's website.

Interior of home from A Christmas Story.
A Christmas Story House & Museum

[h/t WLWT5]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER