Fad-Tastic! Silly String

    March 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

    There is a reason they are called fads. It’s because they disappeared just as quickly as they blew up in popularity.

    Today’s Fad: Silly String

    Silly String is a children’s toy of flexible, sometimes brightly-colored, plastic string propelled as a stream of liquid from an aerosol can. The string polymerizes quickly into a plastic in mid-air, creating a continuous strand. Silly String is often used during weddings, birthday parties, carnivals and other festive occasions where you’d rather your clothes not get ruined.

    Here are some things you might not have known about Silly String:

    “The material is a polymer-based resin which was originally formulated using the chlorofluorocarbon propellant Freon 12, one of a group of compounds believed to damage the ozone layer. Within a year of Silly String’s introduction the United States banned Freons 11 and 12. The manufacturers then changed the formulation to use permitted propellants.” That all sounds very healthy for kids.

    “The inventors came up with Silly String, which they originally named ‘Squibbly,’ while developing an aerosol spray cast for limbs.” People spray paint their limbs? Interesting.

    “Silly String was licensed to and produced by Wham-O, in a range of colors including blue, red, and green, until the rights were sold to the Car-Freshner Corporation, the maker of Little Trees, in 1997.” Silly string car fresheners. Brilliant!

    “The composition of Silly String is fairly safe, but the evaporating fluorocarbon solvent can be quite cold, theoretically capable of causing frostbite.” Again, how is this a kid’s toy?

    “The solvent is somewhat flammable, although the polymerized string is said to be flame-resistant. The flammability of Silly String as it comes out of the can has been highlighted in several home videos of Silly String sprayed near birthday cakes with lit candles, causing small but frightening fires. Users of the product should take care not to spray it near an open flame.” That looks something like this…

    “Silly String may on rare occasions damage the vinyl surfaces of inflatable structures, upholstery, vinyl wallpaper and automobile vinyl tops.” Oh sure, ban lawn darts, but this stuff is still available.

    “The use of Silly String has been banned in several places for various reasons.” Oh. Well that’s better.

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