Some fads manage to make it into the mainstream and have a long life: wearing a sports jacket with jeans, Hacky Sack, Frisbees. Most go on to become fodder for nostalgia shows: the Pet Rock, Davy Crockett hats, supporting Bush. In fact, a great many fads linger in the memory, but what about those fads that suddenly pop back into your consciousness as a result of someone mentioning it, or an article like this?
Slap Wrap Bracelets.
The Slap Wrap Bracelet hit the malls of America in 1990. They looked like one of those old plastic rulers every student used to have, but when you’d hit the top of your wrist, the bracelet would curl beneath your arm to become, well, a bracelet. The brand name version was produced by the Main Street Toy Company and they could be gotten for a very reasonable $2.00. Just like Michael Richards turning down the role of Monk, many toy manufacturers were short-sighted and visionless enough to turn down the opportunity to get in on this fad. The actual inventor of the Slap Wrap was a teacher named Stuart Anders. The premature end to a product that seems likely to have as many comebacks as the Sex Pistols was the result of two things. 1) Too many cheap knockoffs flooded the market. And B), some of those knockoffs were made of metal which tended to cause very painful wounds when slapped on the wrist.
Even when Deely Bobber popularity was at its peak, most people didn’t actually know they were called Deely Bobbers. What was it? Do you remember the Killer Bees skits from the original Saturday Night Live with John Belushi where the antennae of the bees were made with what appeared to be styrofoam balls attacked to springy wires? Those were the precursors of the Deely Bobbers. John Mincove, a novelty toy manufacturer, began marketing Deely Bobbers, but only after another man claimed he and his wife had actually invented them in 1981. Because Deely Bobbers were so easy to knock off and because the imitations were typically pretty crappy, the fad take off quite as spectacularly as Mincove had hoped. Christmas 1982: Deely Bobbers are expected to be the hottest selling novelty since Rubik’s Cube and possibly even get there into the stratosphere occupied by the Pet Rock. Alas, it never happened.
The Smurf Dance
What’s that, you say? You don’t remember the Smurf Dance? How is that possible? No one less than Dick Clark himself declare that “The Smurf” would be looked back upon as one of the iconic images of the 1980s. “The Smurf” came along at the height of the as-yet-unaccounted-for success of the cartoon show. In fact, there are still many people doing the Smurf dance, although it isn’t actually called that and most people have no idea that they are doing has any tie to those blue freaks. Here’s how they were doing “The Smurf” back in those crazy days. First you hang your head on one shoulder, lift your arms up in the air and then back down as you kind of shuffled sideways while clicking your heels together. Then you hang your head on the other shoulder and repeat in the other direction ad infinitum. Yes, truly, some fads deserve to be forgotten. I humbly apologize for even bringing it up.