Trivia

Hard

What Iconic Children’s Toy Started Life In A Military Research Lab?

NERF Rifles
Super Soakers
The Slinky
Frisbees
A classic metal Slinky toy.
Roger McLassus/Wikimedia

Answer: The Slinky

The Slinky has been in production for over seventy years and shows no signs of vanishing from toy store shelves. It’s a classic children’s toy; it’s simple, inexpensive, and the novelty of playing with a wiggly, wobbly, walks-down-the-stairs spring hasn’t waned much over the decades. While most people have a childhood memory or two involving a Slinky and likely even went on to buy one as a gift, very few people know that the toy came to life in a military lab.

In 1943, a young naval mechanical engineer by the name of Richard James was working on designing a system of springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard naval ships in rough seas. During the course of his research, James accidentally knocked a coiled spring off of a shelf in his lab at the William Cramp & Sons shipyards in Philadelphia. The spring went tumbling, landed on a pile of books, flipped over itself, and then proceeded to “walk” itself down the books, flop onto a table, onto the floor, and then coil itself back up into a neat stack.

James was so enamored by the antics of the spring that he went home and told his wife how he thought he could tweak the composition of the spring to consistently walk about in the fashion he had witnessed in the lab. He experimented with different steels and spring lengths over the next year, and the couple ultimately formed a small company to market the spring toy. James and Betty had a very difficult time selling the toy until November of 1945 when they were granted permission to set up a ramp in the toy section of Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia. When children were afforded the opportunity to play with the Slinkys, they proved to be irresistible. The first run of 400 Slinky units sold out in less than two hours.

The Slinky has remained a consistent seller over the years with over 300 million units sold since its introduction in 1945.

Trivia

Hard

Early Rural Telephone Systems In The U.S. Relied On What?

Trivia

Hard

The Special Effects In Which Of These 1990s Films Inspired A Whole New Era Of Film Making?

Trivia

Hard

The Modern Term “Scapegoat” Comes To Us By Way Of?

Trivia

Easy

The Chinese New Year Isn’t A Fixed Date But Governed By?

Trivia

Easy

Which Plant Has Evolved To Repel Mammals But Attracts Birds?

Trivia

Hard

Which Of These Films Led To Increased Popularity And Sales Of Wayfarer Sunglasses?

Trivia

Hard

In The Early 20th Century, Piggly Wiggly Grocery Stores Revolutionized The Industry With?

Trivia

Hard

Back To The Future’s Marty McFly Was Originally Played By?

Trivia

Hard

In The 1990s, There Was A Run On Sony Camcorders When Consumers Believed They Could?

Trivia

Hard

Magic Smoke Is A Tongue-In-Cheek Term For Smoke Produced By?