It may seem otherworldly for kids to imagine a time without smart phones and electronics at their disposal, but when I was only a few years old, I remember flying with my mother from Maryland to California with nothing more to entertain me than a coloring book, some crayons, and Silly Putty.
For me, Silly Putty was the original stress ball. It came packaged in an egg-shaped container the same color as the putty itself, which could bounce, break, twist, stretch, and be molded into any shape or form imaginable. Most impressive of all was how when it was pressed down against a picture, the image would lift off onto the putty perfectly. There was really nothing it couldn’t do – so long as your creativity could keep up with its magical properties.
Exactly who the original creator of the putty is is somewhat of a contentious subject, but according to Crayola (who acquired the rights to the product in 1977), James Wright first invented it in 1943. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that it was marketed specifically as a toy, and on May 28, 2001, Silly Putty was officially inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. It’s since been sold by major retailers, and while it presumably still has a presence in the homes of young children, its practicality as an adhesive has surely kept it selling decently for artists and DIY plumbers alike.
I’ve recently kept my eyes peeled for Silly Putty in stores and unfortunately, I’ve had a hard time finding any at all, save for online listings. Considering how dedicated Crayola is to helping children let their imaginations run wild, it would be a real shame to see Silly Putty reduced to nothing more than a memory. After all, my yellow putty was my best stress reliever and kept me occupied throughout my childhood, including the entirety of my 7-hour flight. Electronics have a limited battery life, but Silly Putty lasts forever.
"Nothing else is Silly Putty."
1.^ U.S. Patent 2,541,851 - Process for making puttylike elastic plastic, siloxane derivative composition containing zinc hydroxide