Monday, June 26, 2006

Extreme Diet Coke

In 1943, which is in the ballpark of the birth years of my parents, Naval engineer Richard James was working with tension springs in an attempt to develop something that would monitor horsepower on battleships. How exactly a spring would help in this matter is far beyond me and my extreme Fear of Physics, but perhaps the Geek in the Basement could figure that one out.

Anyway, according to a military PSA I saw on AFN television while living in Korea, Richard dropped one of the springs, and it started climbing down the stairs. (What walks downstairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkety sound?)

As Richard and his wife Betty watched the spring do its thing, they realized they could make a toy out of it, and the Slinky as we know it was born. Two years later, the Slinky made its debut in department stores just in time for the Christmas season. Today, all Slinkys are made in Pennsylvania using the original equipment designed and engineered by Richard James, according to About.com's "guide to inventors.". (Imagine working there: "What do you do?" "I'm a manager at the Slinky factory." How adorable is that?)

Today, more than a quarter billion Slinkys have been sold around the world, and I'm sure I'll add one more to that as soon as I'm sure that Maggie won't use the family Slinky to strangle her sister.

Apparently the Slinky empire almost came to a crashing halt when Richard left Betty and their six children, joined a Bolivian religious cult, and gave a good portion of the Slinky empire liquid assets to said cult. (For some reason, the AFN public service announcement fails to mention this in its tribute to military ingenuity.) Betty, however, took over as CEO and rescued the company from debt. It was under Betty's watch that the classic Slinky jingle came to be (A spring! A spring! A marvelous thing! Everyone knows it's Sliiiin--kyyyy.), and she added several variations on the Slinky theme to the company's lineup of products, including Slinky Jr., Plastic Slinky, Slinky Dog, Slinky Pets, Crazy Eyes (those glasses with eyeballs on small Slinkys coming out of the lenses), and Neon Slinky, again according to About.com.

Betty was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2001. Richard will just go down in history as an ass.

What does this have to do with "extreme Diet Coke?" Jose sent me the following video, and my mind immediately made a random association to the AFN Korea commercial about the Slinky. ("The Slinky! Brought to you by Naval ingenuity!") It's a rather clever demonstration of what two guys can do with a few liters of my favorite, potentially carcinogenic beverage (according to my herbal medicine MD guy) and a TON of Mentos candies. Like the James's original tension spring, this just goes to show how a happy accident can yield hours of mirth. Eat your heart out, Bellagio....

I tried to embed the video in here, but it was too much of a nuisance, so to see the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, click here.

(And yes, just in case you're wondering, I have been going, "Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap" all freaking day....)

5 comments:

Jen said...

Wow! You sure do the research thing well. I'm not nearly as good at it as you are. I had no idea there was so much drama surrounding Slinky. LOL.
How's the writing going? When does the next one head off for your editor?

The Queen-a Athena said...

Oh, Tracy, this was hysterical. I loved it! And of course, the boys are now begging to try it ...

Keep tapping!!!

HollyJacobs said...

Tracy, LOL I'll never think of slinkies, or diet coke in the same way!!

Holly

Tracy Montoya said...

Jen, sorry it took so long to reply. You've probably given up on me by now! The writing is not going, but it will be going this week or next. Work has been SUCH a bear lately. The next Intrigue goes off to New York Oct. 1. (!!!!!) Thanks for asking!

Tracy Montoya said...

Chris, you'll have to let me know what happens if they try it. I KNEW they'd like that.

Hi, Holly! Thanks for stopping by again.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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