Silly Putty: Wonder toy of the 20th century (1951)

Original publication: Hutchinson News Herald (Hutchinson, Kansas) Date: April 8, 1951
Categories: 1950s, Discoveries & inventions, Featured, For children, Vintage advertisements
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Ulcers bothering? Try Silly Putty

by Glenn Williams

Well, sir, I’m here to tell you that in the past couple of days I’ve had more fun than the oft-cited barrel-full of monkeys. (And that, incidentally, raises the question of what monkeys do in barrels to have so much fun.)

Oh, well, to get back to the subject, this fun cost me only a dollar, which is pretty cheap even for innocent fun these days.

The source of all this fun is a small glob of rather repulsive looking, clay-like material called Silly Putty. A number of local stores are selling it these days.

Silly Putty is just as silly as its name. If you roll it up in a ball, it will bounce like rubber, but if you grab it and give it a sharp jerk, it will break in brittle fashion. On the other hand, if you pull at it gently, it will stretch like bubble gum.

It has other strange and wonderful qualities. If you hit it with a hammer, it will shatter into countless pieces. But if you just leave it alone on a flat surface, it will soggily spread out like a pancake. Spread it out on a comic strip or a newspaper and it will faithfully reproduce the printing or pictures.

Wonder toy of the 20th centuryLocal merchants report the stuff is selling rather rapidly and that most of it is sold to adults who rather sheepishly say they’re buying it for their children. The first Silly Putty to appear in Hutchinson was ordered by a druggist for a child stricken by polio. He figured kneading the putty would help the girl regain full use of her hands.

Other than that, the putty apparently has no practical value, but that doesn’t keep it from being fun.

I understand Silly Putty was first invented by some General Electric scientists, who, after driving themselves crazy trying to find a good use for it, gave up and let it spread where it pleased. The principal ingredient is silicone, whatever that is.

(Article continues below)

>> Find out the toy’s history! What is Silly Putty made of? 

Silly Putty is sold in little, plastic, egg-shaped containers which keep the stuff from running wild.

The company which has the sales rights for the Silly Putty claim it has great psychological value. Eases neuroses and takes one’s mind off such things as high taxes and the blonde across the street.

In fact, they hint, such scenes as the following are common all over the country since Silly Putty made its blessed appearance:

Scene: Suburban home.

Lights, camera, action:

Tired businessman afflicted by ulcers walks into door of home, slaps wife, kicks cat, ignores fond children. Undaunted wife scurries to cupboard, takes out container of Silly Putty, hands it to cross hubby. Cross hubby kneads putty into ball, bounces it on floor few times, giggles to self, kisses wife, pats cat, speaks fondly to fond children.

End of action.

I wouldn’t know about all that. I’ve got no wife, cat, fond children, home or ulcers. I’m just the simple Simon type who likes to watch the stuff bounce up and down.

Silly putty & comics

silly-putty-green-comics

Photo above by me and the sysop

kitty-comics-silly-putty

Photo above by the_vampire_hanna


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Source publication: Hutchinson News Herald (Hutchinson, Kansas)

Publication date: April 8, 1951


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