When Were Rubber Ducks Invented


What’s the first thing you think about when a rubber duck comes to mind? For many, it’s the image of a puppet on a children’s show, having a bubble bath, and singing to his rubber duckie. Rubber ducks first came about as the rubber industry was beginning to take off, which means its invention is some time in the late 1800’s. The yellow rubber duck in particular is an icon of culture, which isn’t bad considering no one knows who invented the toy.

What we do know, however is that Jim Henson made the rubber ducks popular. Today there are numerous identities that are assigned to these ducks, from zombie ducks to bride and groom ducks to firefighter ducks. Even the Queen of England reportedly has a rubber duck with an inflatable crown.

Did You Know the First Rubber Ducks Didn’t Float?

The first rubber ducks weren’t actually intended to be used as a bath toy at all. They came about as an innovation from the vulcanizing process that Goodyear developed to increase the durability of rubber. They were actually made of solid rubber and intended to be a chew toy for dogs. By 1940, however, the classic yellow rubber duckie was making its way into bathtubs across the United States and around the world.

Today’s rubber ducks aren’t actually made of rubber. It’s just a high quality vinyl material that provides a safer, more durable toy that can be used for bath time every day. We still call them rubber ducks, however, because calling them vinyl ducks would just be silly.

When Jim Henson began working with children’s programming, he knew that in order to teach kids new skills, he’d have to connect with them in some way. That’s why the Rubber Duckie song was created for his character. The song became so popular that it became a Top 20 Billboard hit. Even today, kids are still humming the tune, even though it isn’t played as often these days.

Why Are Rubber Ducks So Popular?

Kids love rubber ducks for a wide variety of reasons. They float on top of the water just like a rubber duck, yet are soft and flexible so they can be squeezed, which makes them therapeutic. If you squeeze a rubber duck under the water, then the duck can fill up with water and that can be used to squirt unsuspecting parents coming to check on the status of the bath.

Adults love rubber ducks because of the wide variety that are available today. You can get a rubber duck that fits your personality and it becomes a part of your collective flair. It also brings back fun memories of a childhood, singing along to the Rubber Duckie song, and that’s always a pleasant experience.

Rubber duckies might not have an official inventor, but the world has Jim Henson to thank for making them even more popular than they were. The next time you decide to take a bath, why not take a favorite rubber duckie along with you? After all, he is the one that makes bath time lots of fun.

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