Big Mouth Billy Bass, conceived by Gemmy Industries.
When it comes to making it big and striking it rich, we've all heard the old adage, "All it takes is one good idea."
Well, these 25 people had that one good idea. And it turned out to be a really, *really* good one.
Below are people who have made millions of dollars for their strange, unusual, and sometimes even pointless inventions. You'll not only recognize most of these: Odds are, you or someone you know has bought one.We all loved to hate the Big Mouth Billy Bass, and that was kind of the point. It's clearly nothing but a gag, but basically everyone you knew bought one, earning the company millions of dollars in the process.
The Pet Rock, invented by Gary Dahl.
This adorable (albeit pointless) stony companion profited 15 million in the first six months it was on the market. Each rock was sold for $3.95, profiting Dahl $3 per sale. They came with a hay bed, a pet carrier, and a manual on how to deal with this "hassle-free" housemate.
The Snuggie, invented by Scott Boilen of Allstar Products.
The real brilliance behind the Snuggie was its advertising campaign: The product was sold in ridiculous informercials, featuring families wearing the Snuggie while roasting marshmallows and attending sporting events. According to Boilen, that approach was taken because the Snuggie in-and-of-itself is ridiculous: Why not advertise it in a humorous way? The approach worked: So far, the Snuggie has profited over $200 million dollars.
Tamagotchi, created by Japanese toymaker Bandai.
This pet simulation device prompted a huge craze back in the nineties, and was perfect for kids - and adults, for that matter - who simply weren't responsible enough for a real pet. More than 70 million Tamagotchis have been sold: At one time, they were selling one Tamagotchi every second.
Slap Bracelets, invented by Stuart Andrews.
Who didn't love these as a kid? Most of us had at least five - most of the time, we'd slap them on all at once. Andrews hit the jackpot with this idea: He was a high school shop teacher before he invented the slap bracelet. In 1990 alone, the bracelets were estimated to be profiting between $6 million and $8 million.
Yellow Smiley Faces, invented by Bernard and Murray Spain.
Bernard and Murray Spain wanted to start a novelty store, so they bought the exclusive rights to the smiley face. They also bought the tagline, "Have A Nice Day," to go along with it. The put the image and words on everything they could, netting them 50 million dollars in sales after the first year-and-a-half.
The iFart app, invented by Joel Comm.
Joel Comm lived the dream of middle school boys everywhere when he invented the iFart, and app that basically turns your phone into a Whoopee Cushion. It retails for $.99 in the iTunes store, and was downloaded 113,885 times in the first two weeks it was available. So far, Comm and his company have netted somewhere around $400K.
The Wacky Wall Walker, invented by Ken Hakuta.
Ken Hakuta's mom sent a version of the Wacky Wall Walker to him as a gift from China. Hakuta was fascinated by the toy, so he set about buying the rights to it for $100,000. Then, he began marketing it stateside. So far, the WWW has netted Hakuta about $80 million dollars.
The Slinky, invented by Richard James.
James was a naval engineer who was known around the block for being clumsy. After dropping a tension spring and watching it creep along the floor, he had his big idea. He debuted the toy in 1945, and 400 Slinkys sold out in 90 minutes. To date, the Slinky has earned James $250 million dollars.
Hula Hoop, invented by Arthur K Melin and Richard Knerr.
At its peak in the fifties, more than 50,000 hula hoops were being manufactured every day. Can you imagine what it must have been like to pitch this (slightly confusing) idea?
The Million-Dollar Home Page, created by Alex Tew.
Alex Tew was a 21-year-old Brit who created a home page and sold one million pixels for one dollar each. He also included a background story: He was selling pixels to pay his way through college. It worked, and it earned him a million dollars in just over a year.
Beanie Babies, invented by H. Ty Warner.
The Beanie Babies were, at one time, the kingpins of a toy empire larger than any other. They were cute, collectible, and some of them came with whopping price tags. When Warner debuted them at an Atlanta toy show, he sold 30,000 of them. He made them even more desirable by "retiring" certain models, and by making them only available at certain stores. Reportedly, the stuffed animals have earned warner $3-6 billion dollars to date.
Doggles, invented by a company with the same name.
Because apparently, dogs need goggles. These sell for $80 a pair, and they have earned the company millions.
Magic 8 Ball, invented by Albert Carter and Abe Brookman.
The balls were inspired by Carter's mother, who fancied herself clairvoyant. Originally, the design looked like a tube with liquid inside, but eventually, they redeveloped it into the ball we know today. We wonder if they asked the Magic 8 Ball if they were destined to sell millions.
SantaMail, started by Byron Reese.
Byron Reese has sent over 200,000 letters (at $10 a piece) since the start of his business in 2001. Doing the math, that means he's a multi-millionaire.
Brian with an i
The Koosh Ball, invented by Scott Stillinger.
The Koosh was initially all about practicality: Stillinger wanted to give his young children a toy that they could hold on to and throw easily. He contacted his brother-in-law, a marketing manager at Mattel, to make it happen. Two years later, it was one of the hottest toys on the market. 50 million units were sold - and even more dollars were made in the process.
K Tempest Bradford
The Flowbee, invented by Rick Hunts.
The product is a hair-clipping device that attaches to a vacuum cleaner, allowing the user to cut their curls with minimal mess. Hunt took his invention to late night TV, and the rest was history: From the early nineties to the year 2000, over two million units were sold.
Silly Putty, created by either Harvey Chin, Earl Warrick, or James Wright.
It's unclear who invented Silly Putty, but Peter Hodgson was the genius who started marketing it. In 1950, he sold 250,000 units for a dollar apiece - all in three days time. By the time Hodgson died in 1976, Silly Putty was bringing in over $5 million a year.
Furby, created by Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung.
During Christmas 1998, the Furby was in high demand: So much so that many Furbies were being sold for several times their original price. They sold 40 million units of the glassy-eyed alien in the first three years, and sales of the toy are still incredibly high today.
Billy-Bob Teeth, created by Jonah White.
In 1993 Jonah White, watched dental student Rich Bailey try to pick up girls while wearing ugly false teeth. He started chatting to Bailey, and the dental student agreed to show him how the teeth were fashioned. The pair teamed up, and created the Billy-Bob Teeth business. Today, 20 million units have been sold, resulting in over $40 million in sales.
Lora Risley Images
Dog Wigs, inventor unknown.
Because a head full of fake hair really takes your dog to the next level. These are sold in most major party and costume stores, and there's no sign of the sales slowing down.
Plastic Wishbone, invented by Ken Ahroni.
This novelty is exactly what it sounds like: A life-sized wishbone made out of plastic that's meant to be broken in two. Incredibly, Ahroni was able to sell each of them for $3.99, netting him millions of dollars in the process.
Pillow Pets, invented by Jennifer Telfer.
Telfer explained that her son once had a stuffed animal that became so flattened he used it as a pillow. This inspired the Pillow Pet, which was basically a stuffed animal that could fold and transform into a pillow. It was a huge success, and Telfer now owns her own toy company, CJ Products.
AllerMates, developed by Iris Shamus.
One out of every 13 children have food allergies, and Iris Shamus' son is one of them: He's allergic to peanuts. Shamus wanted to make sure that his teachers and caretakers always remembered his serious allergy. That's what inspired her to come up with AllerMates, the cute bracelets that depict which allergy the child has. Today, the bracelets are sold in 7,000 locations across the United States.
HeadOn, distributed by Sirivision.
When applied directly to the forehead, it supposedly relieves headaches. Like most things in the Internet age, HeadOn became popular thanks to an unbearably annoying commercial that went viral. While the product is made almost entirely of wax and cannot be backed by any scientific research, more than six million tubes were sold for $8 each.