Will Following Advice From a 1988 Book On Fads Make Me a Millionaire?

What would you do with a million dollars? This was a common thought experiment growing up, a question posed to conjure up childish dreams of sports cars, private islands, and jet packs. In retrospect, it’s all completely ridiculous…or, at least it was completely ridiculous until I found the book that will change my life forever.

Does anyone know a good jet pack dealership? I’m about to make a million dollars:

My wagon is hitched!

How to Create Your Own Fad and Make a Million Dollars was written in 1988 by Ken Hakuta (a.k.a. Dr. Fad) and it is no longer in print. I can’t prove it, but my theory is the Federal Reserve had the book banned because they feared it would create too many millionaires and the country would run out of money.

Ken Hakuta, for the uninitiated, is the man behind Wacky Wallwalkers, a fad that made him a millionaire (so he knows what he's talking about):

Astonishingly, I was able to acquire How to Create Your Own Fad and Make a Million Dollars for only $4.95, meaning I can expect a 21000000 percent return on my investment (or, “ROI” as we call it in the biz).

On my quest to make a million dollars, I aim to follow Hakuta’s book as closely as possible. Like a good fad, good advice is timeless.


The book’s cover calls Hakuta the “creator of the Wacky Wallwalker,” though that distinction is technically false. In the short biographical chapter that opens HTCYOFAMAMD (the easy-to-remember acronym that will be used for How to Create Your Own Fad and Make a Million Dollars from this point forth), Hakuta makes it clear that he didn’t come up with the toy himself.

In 1982, Hakuta’s parents sent his children a care package from Tokyo that contained in its contents a little rubber eight-legged toy called a Taco (a take on "tako," Japanese for "octopus"). When thrown against a wall, the Taco would suction to it and then jankily walk down as if of its own volition. Already a relatively successful importer-exporter (he imported karate uniforms from Korea and exported Teflon ironing board covers to Japan), Hakuta knew the toy had potential. He contacted the manufacturer and offered to buy 300,000 Tacos for $120,000 and the worldwide rights to the toy. He re-branded the toy as a “Wacky Wallwalker,” and the rest is history.

By 1988, Wacky Wallwalker had made around $20 million in profits. Hakuta parlayed this success to promote his new persona, invention guru Dr. Fad. He even had his own children’s TV show:

In HTCYOFAMAMD, Dr. Fad writes, “Contrary to what most people believe, fads are made, not born. It’s true you have to have that captivating product, but what happens after that is cold, hard strategy.”

Thankfully, that cold, hard strategy fills the pages of Dr. Fad’s valuable book. “You are operating alone,” he writes, “like Willy Loman with his shoeshine and his smile, bucking the odds.” If Death of a Salesman teaches us anything, it’s that hard work always guarantees a happy ending. Watch out, Mr. Loman, there's a new business success story in town!


Unfortunately, Dr. Fad's book doesn’t supply a list of lucrative, unclaimed fads that are free for the taking, so I am forced to come up with my own. He does, however, include some valuable rules as to what does and doesn't constitute a fad.

“A true fad has little utility beyond its entertainment value. Think of the Mood Ring, the Pet Rock, the Slinky, Silly Putty.”

The inherent pointlessness of a fad is what makes it so much fun. Years ago, the goofy and frivolous toys mentioned above scratched a certain consumer itch. However, in 2015, memes and other online jokes have filled that niche. Behind their silly facades, both toy fads and memes also provide serious cultural currency (“I get the Pet Rock, I’m in on the joke”...“I get doge, I’m in on the joke”).

The big difference between these two types of fads is that one costs money and the other is free and won’t make me a million dollars. The Internet has become the ultimate fad-manufacturer and, unfortunately for me, there is nothing in this book written in 1988 about how to master it. Or is there…

“To sweep the country, forget being innovative about existing things and think original…Avoid high-tech, high-gloss.”

Dr. Fad, you genius. What would be more original in 2015 than a fad that exists outside the Internet? Sure, today’s biggest fads have at least some Internet component (e.g. selfie sticks that are used to take photos for online sharing; self-balancing electric scooters made popular by vaping Vine stars), but to break free from that mold, I must return to fad culture’s simple roots.

“Natural phenomena are not fads, so pass on any schemes to capitalize on such events as Halley's Comet.”

Good to remember for the year 2061.

“Whatever you do, don't sink your life's savings into cliché items. I walk into souvenir and gift shops all the time and feel sorry for the guy who thought up the item that consists of a 'stick in the mud.'"

Okay, this advice disqualifies pretty much everything I have come up with so far:

— “Block Headz (Yoga blocks with googly eyes.)
— “Couch Potatoez” (Potatoes with googly eyes on tiny couches, though potato-sized sofas are prohibitively expensive to manufacture.)
— “Mouse Padz” (Mouse-shaped undergarment-liners for people with overactive bladders.)
— “Urinal Cakez” (Urinal-shaped cakes...not sure how that one got through early brainstorming sessions.)
— “Stick in The Mud” (Oops.)

Back to the drawing board.

While this should be a simple two-step process (1. Create your own fad. 2. Make a million dollars), step one has proven itself to be much more difficult than I had imagined it would be.

Inventing a fad is so hard, even Dr. Fad couldn’t do it. Following his lead, I searched for a Japanese toy I could buy the rights to and market in America. Knowing I’d have to purchase the toys in bulk, I went to Alibaba connects consumers with manufacturers and is the largest e-commerce company in the world, so if anyone has my Wacky Wallwalker, it's them.

Unfortunately, my search for “Japanese toy” led me astray:

Images censored // via

I figured my fad-making days were prematurely cooked—that is, until inspiration struck. And like all true Eureka moments, it came when I least expected it, when I was in Staples buying a reception-area-sized tub of Red Vines. There, amongst the hodgepodge inventory of office supplies, lived my million dollar idea.

Like a bolt from Zeus it struck me: STUPID STRAWZ.


To you, the above may look like standard binding combs for self-publishing documents. But to the refined eye of someone who has studied HTCYOFAMAMD, those inexpensive plastic strips are the world’s next great fad: STUPID STRAWZ.

STUPID STRAWZ are like normal straws, except they don’t fit in most drinks and they don’t provide any suction.

STUPID STRAWZ have all the makings of a perfect fad:

— They're useless.
— They're cheap.
— They're not high-tech.

I also followed Dr. Fad's tenets for naming a fad:

“In this age of instant gratification and USA Today factoids, you have about 20 seconds to get your point across. A name that quickly and clearly sums up what a product is fits into the split-second attention-span of the buying public.”

You know it, my man.

“A catchy name conveys information, amusement, and curiosity all at the same time.”

Check, check, and check.

“Something repetitive helps.”

STUPID STRAWZ has Wacky Wallwalker-level alliteration—that's a market-proven literary device.


Advertising is expensive, and Dr. Fad argues against using it in the early stages of your fad. “A single 30-second spot on Miami Vice will set you back $250,000,” he writes. Considering most fad-makers are delightful amateurs like myself, that kind of scratch is clearly out of the question.

Instead, Dr. Fad advises, you should make the press do your ad work for you. “A news story has tremendous impact on buyers,” he says, and he should know. Hakuta focused on selling his toy to small shops near the Washington Post’s offices. On December 24, 1982, just two and a half months after Hakuta first laid eyes on that Japanese Taco toy, the Post’s style section featured a story on the Wacky Wallwalker. “Newspaper articles multiply like rabbits," he writes, and that story helped make the toy a bona fide super-fad. 

Soon after the Post story ran, Dr. Fad appeared on the CBS Evening News to talk about Wacky Wallwalker. “I’ll take a dozen,” Dan Rather said at the end of the segment, further boosting the toy's national profile.

Luckily, I already have a publication writing about STUPID STRAWZ—this one. Please feel free to take this reputable website’s lead and write about STUPID STRAWZ. If you are a writer who is looking for a pull quote to use when aggregating this, please use this one:

STUPID STRAWZ are amazing and should be on every kid’s holiday wish list. If Dan Rather knew about STUPID STRAWZ, he’d likely say, “I’ll take a dozen.”

Even though it's early in the game for STUPID STRAWZ , I decided to make a commercial anyway. This link will take you to a full Miami Vice episode on YouTube (season 2's "Out Where the Buses Don't Run"—it's a good one). Please pause it at appropriate times and then play this Vine:

Thanks, you just saved me $250,000.


Seeing as my fad already has incredible press attention, I need to make sure all my ducks are in a row when it comes to matters of copyright, trademarks, and patents.

A visit to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s web site reveals that the name “STUPID STRAWZ” is not yet trademarked. According to the Wall Street Journal, online trademark registration costs between $275 and $325, which, I mean, come on. To get around this, I have left the registration form open on my browser, which means the STUPID STRAWZ trademark is pending. So back off.

As for the legality of taking an existing product (like a Staples 1/2 inch binding comb), giving it a new name (and a great name: “STUPID STRAWZ”), and then reselling it at a higher cost? Here is where I may run into some problems. According to Justin Jacobson, a copyright lawyer at the Jacobson firm, that act would “constitute palming off and result in unfair competition claims.” So, for right now, all STUPID STRAWZ are not-for-sale prototypes.
I need to find a manufacturer with whom I can work directly and who will make STUPID STRAWZ to my own unique specifications (i.e. 11/20 inch binding combs). In order to do this, I have to get my hands on some sweet sweet moolah.


“I wouldn’t finance a fad if I were a banker,” Dr. Fad writes, though he almost was a banker. In HTCYOFAMAMD's intro chapter, Hakuta says he turned down a job at Goldman Sachs before starting his import-export business. That fact is worth keeping in mind when he lays out his financial advice, as it contains a Goldman Sachs-level understanding of consequence:

“[A] way to raise finances is to use as many credit cards as you can to stretch a line of credit. Go to 10 different banks and apply for MasterCard and Visa. Then get $500 on each of your 20 credit cards. Everybody will give you that. You don’t want to draw down on them one at a time because they will all find out. You draw down on all of them on the same day. Then you have $10,000…If you have a hot fad, you worry about paying it back later. That’s tomorrow’s problem.”

Uhh, I don’t know if that's a good idea for me and STUPID STRAWZ, Dr. Fad…

“Similar to the credit card approach is getting a line of credit at 10 banks for $2000 or $3000 each. You can get about $30,000 that way.”

Hmm, not so sure about this…

“My major form of financing, other than credit cards, was convincing the Japanese manufacturer to give me a $120,000 line of credit. In effect, he became my bank, my largest creditor.”

As much as I love my fad and am confident in its success, I don’t want STUPID STRAWZ to be the reason a plastic manufacturer's hired toughs break my legs. 

Without money there would be no STUPID STRAWZ. I needed help, and HTCYOFAMAMD provided me with one last option: 1-800-USA-FADS, the hotline set up by Dr. Fad to give advice to "budding fadsters" like myself. Calling that number today, however, connects you to an automated survey that promises a chance at winning a free Caribbean vacation.

How could I turn down a tropical getaway? While I am on hold, stay away from STUPID STRAWZ. That trademark's pending.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
7 Giant Machines That Changed the World—And 1 That Might
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

From a 17-mile-long particle accelerator to a football-field–sized space observatory, here are seven massive machines that have made an equally huge impact on how we build, how we observe our universe, and how we lift rockets into space. We've also included a bonus machine: a technological marvel-to-be that may be just as influential once it's completed.


Large Hadron Collider
Carlo Fachini, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator located at CERN outside of Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest machine in the world: It has a circumference of almost 17 miles and took around a decade to build. The tubes of the LHC are a vacuum; superconducting magnets guide and accelerate two high-energy particle beams, which are moving in opposite directions, to near-light-speed. When the beams collide, scientists use the data to find the answers to some of the most basic questions of physics and the laws that govern the universe we live in.

Since the LHC started up in 2008, scientists have made numerous groundbreaking discoveries, including finding the once-theoretical Higgs boson particle—a.k.a. the "God" particle—which helps give other particles mass. Scientists had been chasing the Higgs boson for five decades. The discovery illuminates the early development of the universe, including how particles gained mass after the Big Bang. Scientists are already working on the LHC's successor, which will be three times its size and seven times more powerful.


Built in 1965, NASA's crawler-transporters are two of the largest vehicles ever constructed: They weigh 2400 tons each and burn 150 gallons of diesel per mile. In contrast, the average semi truck gets roughly 6.5 miles per gallon. The vehicles' first job was to move Saturn V rockets—which took us to the moon and measured 35 stories tall when fully constructed—from the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (the largest single-room building in the world) to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The 4.2-mile trip was a slow one; the transporters traveled at a rate of 1 mph to ensure the massive rockets didn't topple over. Without a vehicle to move rockets from the spot they were stacked to the launch pad, we never could have gotten off the ground, much less to the moon.

After our moon missions, the crawler-transporters were adapted to service the Space Shuttle program, and moved the shuttles from 1981 to 2003. Since the retirement of the orbiters, these long-serving machines are once again being repurposed to transport NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS), which, at 38 stories tall, will be the biggest rocket ever constructed when it's ready, hopefully in a few years (the timeline is in flux due to budgetary issues).


National Ignition Facility (NIF) target chamber
Lawrence Livermore National Security, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Three football fields could fit inside the National Ignition Facility, which holds the largest, most energetic, and most precise laser in the world (it also has the distinction of being the world's largest optical instrument). NIF—which took about a decade to build and opened in 2009—is located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. Its lasers are used to create conditions not unlike those within the cores of stars and giant planets, which helps scientists to gain understanding about these areas of the universe. The NIF is also being used to pursue the goal of nuclear fusion. If we can crack the code for this reaction that powers stars, we'll achieve unlimited clean energy for our planet.


When Seattle decided it needed a giant tunnel to replace an aging highway through the middle of the city, the city contracted with Hitachi Zosen Corporation to build the biggest tunnel boring machine in the world to do the job. The scope of Bertha's work had no precedent in modern-day digging, given the dense, abrasive glacial soil and bedrock it had to chew through.

In 2013, Bertha—named after Bertha Knight Landes, Seattle's first female mayor—was tasked with building a tunnel that would be big enough to carry four lanes of traffic (a two-lane, double-decker road). Bertha needed to carve through 1.7 miles of rock, and just 1000 feet in, the 57-foot, 6559-ton machine ran into a steel pipe casing that damaged it. Many predicted that Bertha was doomed, but after a massive, on-the-spot repair operation by Hitachi Zosen that took a year-and-a-half, the borer was up and running again.

In April 2017, Bertha completed its work, and engineers started the process of dismantling it; its parts will be used in future tunnel boring machines. Bertha set an example for what is possible in future urban tunnel work—but it's unlikely that tunnel boring machines will get much bigger than Bertha because of the sheer weight of the machine and the amount of soil it can move at once. Bertha's tunnel is scheduled to open in 2019.


international space station

The international space station is a highly efficient machine, equipped with instrumentation and life support equipment, that has kept humans alive in the inhospitable environment of low-Earth orbit since November 2, 2000. It's the biggest satellite orbiting the Earth made by humans. The major components were sent into space over a two-year period, but construction has slowly continued over the last decade, with astronauts adding the Columbus science laboratory and Japanese science module. The first module, Zarya, was just 41.2 feet by 13.5 feet; now, the ISS is 356 feet by 240 feet, which is slightly larger than a football field. The station currently has about 32,333 cubic feet of pressurized volume the crew can move about in. That's about the same area as a Boeing 747 (though much of the ISS's space is taken up by equipment). The U.S.'s solar panels are as large as eight basketball courts.

From the space station, scientists have made such important discoveries as what extended zero-G does to the human body, where cosmic rays come from, and how protein crystals can be used to treat cancer. Though NASA expects the most modern modules of the ISS to be usable well into the 2030s, by 2025 the agency may begin "transitioning" much of its ISS operations—and costs—to the private sector [PDF] with an eye on expanding the commercial potential of space.


The Laser Inferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is actually made up of four different facilities—two laboratories and two detectors located 2000 miles apart, in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana. The detectors, which took about five years to build and were inaugurated in 1999, are identical L-shaped vacuum chambers that are about 2.5 miles long and operate in unison. The mission of these machines is to detect ripples in the fabric of spacetime known as gravitational waves. Predicted in 1915 by Einstein's theory of general relativity, gravitational waves were entirely theoretical until September 2015, when LIGO detected them for the first time. Not only did this provide further confirmation of general relativity, it opened up entirely new areas of research such as gravitational wave astronomy. The reason the two detectors are so far from each other is to reduce the possibility of false positives; both facilities must detect a potential gravitational wave before it is investigated.


Antonov An-225 in Paramaribo
Andrew J. Muller, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

The Russians originally had a rival to the U.S. Space Shuttle program: a reusable winged spacecraft of their own called the Buran—and in the 1980s, they developed the AN-225 Mriya in order to transport it. With a wingspan the size of the Statue of Liberty, a 640-ton weight, six engines, and the ability to lift into the air nearly a half-million pounds, it's the longest and heaviest plane ever built. Mriya first flew in 1988, and since the Buran was mothballed in 1990 after just one flight (due to the breakup of the Soviet Union rather than the plane's capabilities), the AN-225 has only been used sparingly.

The monster plane has inspired new ideas. In 2017, Airspace Industry Corporation of China signed an agreement with Antonov, the AN-225's manufacturer, to built a fleet of aircraft based on the AN-225's design that would carry commercial satellites on their backs and launch them into space. Currently, virtually all satellites are launched from rockets. Meanwhile, Stratolaunch, a company overseen by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is building a plane that will be wider (but not longer) than Mriya. The giant plane will carry a launch vehicle headed for low-Earth orbit.


This forward-thinking project, funded by Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, focuses on reminding people about their long-term impact on the world. Instead of a traditional clock measuring hours, minutes, and seconds, the Clock of the Long Now measures times in years and centuries. The clock, which will be built inside a mountain on a plot of land in western Texas owned by Bezos, will tick once per year, with a century hand that advances just once every 100 years. The cuckoo on the clock will emerge just once per millennium. Construction began on the clock in early 2018. When this massive clock is completed—timeline unknown—it will be 500 feet high. What will be the impact of this one? Only the people of the 120th century will be able to answer that question.

Choose Water
Bottle Service: This Water Container Decomposes in Weeks
Choose Water
Choose Water

For all the cheap convenience it affords us in day-to-day life, the long-term cost of using plastic is staggering. More than 165 million tons of discarded plastic waste are in the world’s oceans and pose a serious threat to marine life.

Scotland-based inventor and Durham University chemistry graduate James Longcroft is currently fundraising a potential solution. His company, Choose Water, is offering a biodegradable water container that Longcroft claims will decompose within three weeks. Made from recycled paper and a proprietary waterproof inner lining, the bottle is intended for a single use. Longcroft claims it will begin decomposing after being discarded in water or a landfill. The steel cap will rust and take about a year to erode completely.

The company’s methodology for making the bottle is being kept under wraps for now: On his Indiegogo campaign page, Longcroft says that he’s waiting for patent approval before offering any further explanation. Business Insider requested a bottle to test, but the company declined, citing concerns over trade secrets.

If fundraising is successful, Choose Water hopes to be in stores by the end of 2018. (At press time, the campaign had reached roughly half of its $34,000 goal.) The company says all profits will be donated to Water for Africa, a charity providing clean water solutions.

[h/t Business Insider]


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