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.
Released in 1962 by Wham-O, the Water Wiggle was touted in newspapers of the time as the successor to the runaway success of the Hula Hoop. It didn’t take long for it to become a hit.
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.
Do 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 had a major recall of Water Wiggles because of this horrible accident, and the family of the boy who drowned was awarded $240,000.
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.
– U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (1978)
This unfortunate incident setback the Water Wiggle. Eventually, new Water Wiggles would hit the market, but it would never reach its former glory.
In 1986, they turned one of these New Water Wiggles on in Pt. Pleasant, NJ, and gathered 100 kids around it. 22 years later, one man was 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.