The Slinky is an American icon that is still being manufactured in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania after 55 years from its introduction to department stores in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1945 by its current owner, Poof Products, Inc.
Everyone remembers it from their youth, and I remember having at least half a dozen or so in its original metal as well as various plastic multicolored versions as a kid. I especially remember the string of commercials they had during the 1980’s when I was a kid, as well as its famous jingle. I also remember the hilarious spoof made of the jingle on the animated series Ren and Stimpy during the early 1990’s:
What rolls down stairs
Alone or in pairs
Rolls over your neighbor's dog?
What's great for a snack
And fits on your back?
It's Log! Log! Log!
It's Lo-og, it's Lo-og
It's big, it's heavy
It's Lo-og, Lo-og
It's better than bad
Everyone want's a log
You're gonna love it Log.
Come on and get your log.
Everyone needs a log.
"It's Log...from Blamm-o"
The Slinky uses gravity and its own momentum to stretch, flow down and reform itself. It is made of one continuous helical spring with the ability to expand, collapse and bounce.
The original was developed in 1943 by Richard James, a naval mechanical engineer with a dream and a $500 loan. The idea was inspired when James accidentally knocked over a naval spring at his job and watching it literally step down the inclined surface. Together with his wife Betty James, they formed James Industries and commissioned a local Philadelphia machine shop to produce 400 units. They wrapped each one in yellow paper and sold it for $1 a piece at Gimbels department store in 1945, selling all 400 units within 90 minutes!
Over the years they introduced a Dog and Suzie the worm. After becoming president of James Industries in 1960, Betty James moved the company from Philly to Holidaysburg, PA and finally sold the company to Poof Products, Inc. in 1998. Poof Products still produces the Slinky with the original James Industries machines.
Various knock offs have been produces over the years, selling for less than half of the original’s price. Most of them of course are Chinese, and below is a good example.
I’ve probably owned some of the knock offs as well, but when it comes time to give them as gifts now that I’m an adult, I’ll make the choice to buy American and support my fellow Pennsylvanian business neighbor!
Above left is the original still Made in America. To the right is a cheaper “Metallic Spring.” Which would you buy?