Happy National Slinky Day!
“What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs
and makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing!”
It’s time to celebrate the famous walking metal spring! National Slinky Day is on August 30.
The Curious History of the Slinky
The Slinky was discovered in 1943. Naval engineer Richard James was conducting experiments using tension springs when he accidently knocked one off a shelf and it began “walking”, from a stack of books, to a tabletop, to the floor.
James took the spring home to show his wife Betty and told her he thought it could be made into a toy. Betty warmed up to the idea when some neighborhood kids showed interest in James’ invention. She came up with the name “Slinky” (from the Swedish word meaning “sleek”) and decided that “slinky” was pretty close to describing the noises the toy made as it moved.
The couple produced 400 units and set about trying to sell their product to stores. The original Slinkys were 2 1/2″ tall, made from blue-black Swedish steel, and hand wrapped in yellow paper. When the Slinky was shown at Gimbels department store in Philadelphia during the Christmas season, their entire stock was sold within ninety minutes. The Jameses company sold 100 million Slinkys in its first 2 years.
In 1960, James left the thriving company and his family after Betty filed for divorce to become an evangelical missionary in Bolivia. Betty took control of the company, expanding the product line, introducing new advertising (including the famous Slinky jingle) and taking the Slinky to new success.
Betty James was determined to keep the Slinky affordable. She was quoted as saying that “so many children can’t have expensive toys, and I feel a real obligation to them. I’m appalled when I go Christmas shopping and $60 to $80 for a toy is nothing.”
Over 300 million Slinkys have been sold between 1945 and 2005. It was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2000. The ambulatory metal coil is still a bestseller today.
Get A Slinky of your own!
There’s a wide variety of Slinkys you can find today.