Water Wiggle – The Wet Dance of Doom

How do we toughen our children to stand up against a difficult future? By having them prance about merrily in a gentle spray of cool hose water? Of course not. That is why Wham-O invented one of the most dangerous toys to ever grace the American backyard, “The Water Wiggle”. Most of you know of the Wiggle and have the scars to prove it, but if you have not faced the suburban water serpent, here is what you are missing.

You take a standard garden hose and attached a weighted sprinkler to its end. Picture a Medieval Morning Star, with a goofy face painted on it. Gather the kids around it. Turn on the hose and watch the carnage. Kids will laugh as the Wiggle magically rises into the air and will then be terrified as the aquatic worm lunges at them time and again. Never relenting until it turns them into a crying, moist grass-covered heap.

In 1986 they turned one of these on in Pt. Pleasant, NJ and gathered 100 kids around it. 22 years later one man is still standing in the showery danger zone of this evil hose worm. But he is no longer like the rest of us. They say that when it rains, he can dodge the very drops. One day he will emerge from the Garden State and assume his destiny as King of our land.

You think I am messing around about the dangers of this thing? Not only will it knock you out cold, but you can also drown!

Wham-O stated that the recall is occasioned by the death of a four-year-old child in March 1978. The youngster was playing with some other children in his backyard with a dismantled “Water Wiggle,” one from which the bell-shaped head had been removed or had come off. The exposed aluminum nozzle became lodged in his mouth and he drowned. Wham-O stated that it had no knowledge of how or why the toy was dismantled or how the nozzle became lodged in the child’s mouth.

Read the full article on the recall of 1978 here:


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22 thoughts on “Water Wiggle – The Wet Dance of Doom

  1. doc says:

    I was actually a witness (the only one) to the 3 yr old drowning. It was in Baton Rouge, LA. We were both 3 at the time and tragic.

  2. StudMuffin says:

    OMG…how in the world does someone get hurt with a water wiggle? Sheesh, My siblings and friends played with them for probably most of the 17 years they were in existence, and none of us were ever drowned or maimed. The only thing that happened to us was that we were forced to have fun.

  3. Randy says:

    The author of this piece must be biased. We played with one for years and it was not a lethal weapon like a morning star… geez! It was fun and cooled you off just like a slip and slide was fun and cooled you off. Leaving a three year old alone with one until he bites of the end and drowns is the real culprit here. I guess we should ban pencils now too… you wouldn’t believe how many accidents have been caused by those things.

  4. Tj Bring Our Wiggle Back says:

    Wham-O Company: PLEASE bring the Water Wiggle back! The accident was NOT the fault of the company or product design. Like the other poster stated…should we ban pencils too due to endless injuries? I realize Wham-O was being respectful of the parents that unfortunately lost their child yet to blanketly ban them makes no sense! I had a water wiggle in the early 60’s Believe me, I was an adventurous little tomboy-always dismantling and exploring things yet not once was I ever injured by a water wiggle! Anyone agree with my posting that Wham-O should put the wiggle back (on our shelves) in our Water Wiggles? Bring them back!!!

  5. Burl Spencer says:

    This is still the most ridiculous story ever, next to the coffee buyer at McDonald’s getting burned by coffee.
    The Water Wiggle? Used it for years. Dangerous? Playing with a flame-thrower is dangerous. Yard darts were dangerous. Drowned? I’ve heard turkeys will look up in the sky when it rains and drown. The only possibility of someone drowning from this toy is ignorance or pure negligence. This is the stupidest post ever. You have a better chance getting struck by a meteor than drowning via a Water Wiggle…

  6. Pat D says:

    We had a water wiggle for years and never had any problems like what this article says. Our German Shepard loved the water wiggle and would chase it and pounce on it and shake it. Nobody had any problems with it and it never hit anybody knocking them out. Come on. Why would any parent let a 3 year old play with a toy that puts out a lot of water and flies around in the first place. I’m looking on like for one as all our kids are old enough to play with it along with the dogs. Common sense people prevails.

  7. Jeff O says:

    First time I hooked mine up, it went flying across the yard and hit my grandmother (the mean one) in the side of the head. Should have been named the Kharma Wiggle

  8. Lisa says:

    This is so riddiculous it made me laugh…aside from the sad story about the baby drowning..but where was the parent when a 4 year old is left alone with a toy obviously not intended for that age group?

    I loved the water wiggle and yes…there where times it “whacked” me or even tripped me up, but kids were much tougher back then. You got youfself up and let the fun continue.

    Childhood obesity was unheard of…now with kids sitting inside all the time on computers, games and other various electronic devices we have so many kids sick from being overweight, not getting enough exercise. Does it mean computer games and the like should be taken off the market? I’m sure that will never happen, but will I call computer games one of the most dangerous toys, to sweep homes, worldwide? No…Again..what about supervision and moderation?

  9. lizzythin says:

    I’m far from “slow” in intelligence but I have to admit that I’ve never heard of this until today when I watched “Dickie Richards” w/David Spade ! I grew up in the “Sticks” but We didn’t have these ! I also went to Point Pleasant Beach two to three times a year as My Grandmother owned a bungalo there and I was born in Neptune, NJ ! I’ve got to go back and watch the video..listen ..wow !

  10. stacy says:

    I found this site because I was wondering how to get a wiggle worm for my kid. I had a blast I with one when I was a child. How sad for a parent to have that happen. I am very big on safety rules. Ask my children. Yet after several near misses at tradegy coming at me and having no control, nor causing them..not beihaving nowhere to run or move..the end result being here I am..somewhere ddep inside me is the belief of divine intervention..and when it is time to go..itk’s time…I still say put on the helmet..look both ways..God’s destiny is God’s destiny thou..Period.

  11. Drahken says:

    I remember seeing commercials for this, or something built on the same premise, though I never saw one in real life. However, from the instant I saw the commercial, I immediately thought that it was a dumb & dangerous concept (even though I was still a kid myself at the time).
    I’m vehemently against babyfying the world (putting plastic plugs in every outlet, childproof latches on every single drawer, bicycle helmets for non-stunt riding (wearing protectionwhen you’re going to do something stupid is a good idea, wearing it when you’re just riding normally is pointless. I fell off my bike countless times as a kid, and never got any serious injuries), etc), but I am in favor of common sense safety. Put outlet covers in the child’s room, put latches on drawer & cabinets with dangerous chemicals or drugs, use safety equipment when you’re planning to do something stupid, and don’t put a big hard thing on the end of a hose that’s flying around uncontrolled.

  12. The wham o wiggle worm had several ways to kill or maim. I survived several especially brutal sessions with the worm as a child in the seventies and will share what I know…
    1. Most commonly, the wiggle worm would choose a single child out of the group and relentlessly bludgeon them with the plastic dome. The zany smiling face was painted on to induce fear and temporary psychosis in the victim.
    2. Some models of the wiggle worm were fitted with a hefty 1 inch brass nut or “death nut” hidden under what some of you have described as the penis cap or dome. Once the dome was ejected during an especially violent bludgeoning (see item #1), the death nut was exposed and the beating would continue “blackjack” style.
    3. Death by drowning as tragically reported also occurred
    4. Constrictor death mode: If the Wiggle Worm went into an especially water pressure induced frenzy, it would coil around a child resulting in 1 – 3 or possible hostage situation.

  13. Larryno says:

    This toy WAS dangerous. Fun, but dangerous. And dangerous in a bruising way, not a deadly way. I remember that the point of it was *not*getting*hit*. Water really had nothing to do with it. We’d turn on the water and then run away from it, trying to dodge its blows. Once the hose wrapped around my legs and I fell down with the plastic head being under me, and the weight of my body falling on the that plastic head hurt like HELL. Another time, I remember a girl getting whacked on the forehead with it. She fell down, and when she got back up, WHAM! it hit her on the back off the head and she collapsed. We laughed, she cried. Ah, childhood in the ’70s. I miss it.

  14. FloridaSunshine says:

    I was looking for a Water Wiggle for my nieces and nephews because I grew up playing with one and sad to see it was recalled. I remember having so much fun and even enjoyed it when it wrapped around my body or hit me in the head but it was no big deal and that is one of the reasons why it was fun to play with. You never knew what it was going to do. I remember my neighbor being scared of it at first but she soon got over it. Now I could see if they had recalled the Slip and Slide because I almost cracked my head open several times so I am surprised that is still on the market. It is sad to hear about a parent to losing a child but it sounds like the reason for the recall is an isolated case and should of had better parent supervision. I wished they would bring it back and maybe raise the age limit and put in big bold letters “USE ONLY UNDER PARENT SUPERVISON” Watching the video sure brings back some good memories…”Blast from the past”… Sad to see it is not available.

  15. MrP says:

    Parents used to be smart enough, or have enough common sense, to supervise their children. They had enough intelligence to examine or test a product designed for kids and be reasonably sure that it was safe, and trash it if it proved otherwise. Many of today’s parents are unfit for the task.

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