Silly Bandz have become something of a phenomenon with many preteen and teen boys and girls - for whatever reason, kids absolutely love these things.
There are some items that every once in a while just catch us parents by surprise, especially when our kids become a bit more independent and start spending some of their own money. I took it for granted that our 11 year old girl had been walking around with some colored silly bands for a while, and with time slowly watched these things crawl up her wrists and ultimately dominating her forearms. My wife was the first to ask what those things were all about, and out poured a monologue filled with excitement about how they were so cool and how everyone traded them and how even boys were interested in them. I still didn’t get them, but digging a little deeper into the background of them uncovered some interesting things.
First, Silly Bandz are made of 100% silicone rubber distributed by SB Imports that are multicolored and form various shapes of symbols, animals, words.... a whole bunch of stuff sold in neatly categorized packages of 12 and 24.
They were originally designed in 2002 in Japan to replace the office rubber band with a more environmentally friendly product, but were re-purposed by BCP Imports of Ohio as kids fashion accessories after some coloration and thickening of the bands. They were sold online in 2008, hitting retail stores in 2009 with early success through the eastern states, then ballooning into a national phenomenon in over 8,000 retail stores throughout the US, as well as hitting the best sellers list on Amazon.com.
To get a better idea of why these silly bands became so popular, I asked our primary source of this information to write a short essay, and with fantastic enthusiasm she offer this: “I’m eleven years old and I collect Silly Bandz. They are for ages five and up. They are one hundred percent silicone. I collect them because they are fun to play with. I have them in many shapes and I play with them all the time.
Also, I trade with people. A lot of people are crazy about them so, I try to trade my doubles. People tell other people how many silly bands they have. I have one hundred and twenty silly bands. Sometimes I give some to my friends for free. There may be a million of them in the world.
There are many different kinds of silly bands. There are simple ones with just one color. There tie-dye silly bands that are more than one color in one. Also, there are sparkly silly bands. Finally, there are glow in the dark ones. I have a lot of each one. I mostly trade for sparkly and tie-dye ones.
There are rare silly bands too. The rarest silly band ever is the phoenix. There are not many phoenixes in the world. Black silly bands are also rare because it’s such a simple color. Mystical silly bands are rare too. Pirate silly bands are also rare.
You cannot wet them though. Also, you can’t stretch them really far or use them over and over again. I’m telling you about silly bands because I want to tell you that everyone one is crazy about silly bandz. Your children want silly bandz too. They make many shapes which is amazing. Finally, I like silly bandz because girls and boys collect them.”
So there you have it, how can you argue with that? Silly Bands are simple, inexpensive and relatively harmless. I asked her if this was becoming a problem in her school, and it appears that teachers are not banning them as accessories, but allow trading only during lunch time and recess. They remind me of an earlier time in my life during the ‘80s when all the girls were wearing the black rubber bracelets inspired by Madonna, but at least these silly bands cross over the gender barrier in a positive way.