By Alexandra Margelu, Roxana Margelu, and Breanna Wells
MAR. 19, 2021
Rubber duckies haven’t always been known as the nation’s bath toy. Prior to the 1800s, the ducks couldn’t even float and were used as chew toys. Before Charles Goodyear’s process of rendering rubber into malleable material was adopted by many manufacturers, ducks were made out of vinyl. Still, with continued development, the yellow rubber ducks were created and continue to be manufactured to this day. By the 1960s, the bath toy ducks were free from patent restriction and became a known bathroom fixture. They were used by parents to soothe the apprehension of children who were scared about being dipped into water. They were cheaply made and cheaply acquired.
Rubber Ducky’s popularity skyrocketed when they appeared in a segment of Sesame Street. Ernie, an adorable muppet, sang “Rubber Ducky” to his yellow bath toys, showing how fun bath time could be for children. The song rose to No. 16 on the Billboard “Hot 100 Singles” chart, and the song went on to sell over 1 million copies as a single. Also, the image of Ernie playing with the duck was licensed for merchandise. Rubber Ducks also helped scientists. Oceanographers researched ocean currents by tracking rubber ducks’ movement when around 29,000 bath toys spilled into the North Pacific Ocean in 1992. The yellow ducks and other bath toys washed up on shores from Alaska to Maine to Scotland.
Rubber Duckies are one of the world’s most popular toys. They even have their own National Rubber Ducky Day on January 13. In 2013 they were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.