Tag Archives | Americana

A Neo-Nazi Inventor’s Gift to Childhood: Sea Monkeys

I always thought these things were really odd. Check out this article from Tamar Brott in Los Angeles Times from October, 2000. Sea Monkeys inventor Harold von Braunhut died in 2003:
SeaMonkeysInAquariumAPART FROM THE FACT THAT THEY CAN HATCH WITHIN MINUTES AFTER contact with water, brine shrimp are unappealing creatures. They're ant-sized and translucent and bear a striking resemblance to sperm. Yet brine shrimp packaged as "Sea Monkeys" are currently sold as children's companions, and portrayed on their boxes as pink, pear-shaped simian creatures with spindly legs, paunches and coy smiles. They are one of the most impressive achievements in the annals of marketing. Harold von Braunhut, a former manager of novelty acts, first packaged his patented hybrids in 1960, transforming the Sea Monkeys into American icons via millions of comic book ads. Von Braunhut also wrote the 32-page handbook that is included in most Sea Monkey kits to this day, which states that the creatures can be hypnotized, play baseball and rise from the dead. The tone of the handbook is florid and huckstery: "It seems that at mating time in the Animal Kingdom, the males engage in combat to win the fin, paw, flipper, hoof, wing or what-have-you, of their 'lady love.' ...
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